Birmingham Legion FC fell to Swope Park Rangers 3-1 on Monday night. With the loss, the squad remains in tenth position, the final playoff spot in the USL Eastern Conference table.
The first chance of the game fell for Brian Wright in the second minute, but he decided to slow play down instead of taking on the goalkeeper one-on-one, eventually finding Prosper Kasim who blasted a deflected shot off a Swope Park defender.
In the fourth minute of the contest, Swope Park scored, but the goal was taken away due to an offside call.
In the seventh minute of the game, Swope Park forward Wilson Harris converted a backheel flick on a low cross from Brazilian midfielder Alexander, beating Legion goalkeeper Matt Vanoekel, putting the Rangers up 1-0.
A minute later, Legion midfielder Prosper Kasim connected on a shot from outside the 18-yard box that went just wide of the post.
In the 25th minute, Kasim drilled a shot from outside the box that went directly into the chest of Swope Park goalkeeper Eric Dick.
Two minutes later, Legion defender Akeem Ward provided the second scoring opportunity for Swope Park as he conceded a penalty by taking down a Rangers attacker in the defensive box.
Midfielder Ayyoub Allach stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty shot, giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
After a smattering of chances from Legion forwards JJ Williams and Brian Wright, Birmingham eventually found the back of the net on a Williams’ header in the 45th minute, allowing the Legion to enter halftime down only a goal.
After the Legion threw many men forward, the first scoring chance of the half fell to Swope Park in the 58th minute as Allach flicked a ball towards the Legion’s Vanoekel that was easily collected.
A minute later, Swope Park substitute Ze Pedro curled a shot from outside the box towards the far post that went just wide of the net and outstretched hands of Vanoekel.
In the 63rd minute, Swope Park were nearly gifted a third goal after Birmingham outside back Akeem Ward failed to clear the ball properly, drilling the ball into the crossbar of the Legion’s own goal.
Ten minutes later, Swope Park nearly scored on an effort from Wan Kuzain that hit the side netting of the goal after he effortlessly glided past Vanoekel.
In the 74th minute, the Legion responded as defender Kyle Culbertson blasted a shot from outside the box that flew by Dick, but missed the goal by a few feet.
The Legion finished the contest with 10 men after Wright was sent off for shoving Swope Park 17-year-old midfielder Tucker Lepley in the neck in the 76th minute.
After a period of sloppy defensive play from the Legion defense, Ze Pedro put the game away in the 79th minute with a third Swope Park goal.
Vanoekel made a selection of saves in the final 10 minutes to ensure that the game ended 3-1.
Legion FC will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 5 as they take on Charleston Battery at BBVA Field. The game has a start time set for 7 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.
Gunnar Sadowey is the sports editor for the Crimson. He is a senior from Elkhart, IN. Gunnar is currently a journalism and mass communications major with a print concentration and a German minor.