KANSAS CITY, Kan. - The Foxes were unable to swing the scoreline in the second half, falling 1-0 to Swope Park Rangers on Sunday afternoon at Children's Mercy Park to split the season series at one win apiece. The hosts took an early lead by way of Hadji Barry's strike at the 14th minute, when he capitalized on a Fresno FC turnover before dribbling into the left side of the box and finding the goal near post.
Fresno FC remains in 11th place in the USL Western Conference at 8W-10L-11D (35 points), seven points out of eighth with five matches to play in the regular season.
The Foxes controlled the tempo early as they displayed skill in small passes through the defense and midfield. Their first chance came at the 12th minute when Franck Tayou laid off a short pass to Juan Pablo Caffa, but his attempt deflected off a Rangers defender. Two minutes later, Swope Park answered behind Barry's fifth goal in five consecutive starts.
Fresno FC didn't let off the gas, producing its best chance at an equalizer just three minutes later when Danny Barrera swung his left foot around three yards in front of goal to connect on the volley, only to see it denied as Swope Park goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas punched it up and off the crossbar. Moments later, a Rangers foul gifted the Foxes had another dangerous opportunity with Caffa missing just inches over the crossbar from a long-range free kick.
Photo courtesy of Swope Park Rangers
Fresno threatened again five minutes into the second half when Caffa fired a shot from the left side of the penalty area that was blocked by Zendejas. With time winding down, newly acquired forward Don Smart - who entered the match as a halftime substitute for Cory Brown - volleyed a finish just wide of the right post as he caught a cross by Myer Bevan.
The Foxes kept knocking with Bevan trying a header that deflected off Rangers defender Graham Smith and went over the crossbar. At the 69th minute, substitute Renato Bustamante had an open chance as a ball fell to him atop the 18, only to see him rocket it over the cross bar. Bustamante would have two more chances at goal, only to see both of his headers denied by Zendejas and the Rangers defense.
It was a physical contest for Fresno FC, as the side picked up five yellow cards. Alex Cooper was booked at the 53rd minute, earning his fifth caution of the season resulting in a one-match suspension he will serve next match. Others booked were Caffa, Mickey Daly, Zachary Ellis-Hayden, and Kyle Reynish.
Fresno FC returns to the San Joaquin Valley for its next two matches, playing host to first-place Orange County on Sunday, Sept. 16, followed by Portland Timbers 2 on Saturday, Sept. 22. Tickets for both matches are on sale now and available at tickets.fresnofc.com or the Chukchansi Park Box Office.