The Swope Park Rangers continue to build their team towards the start of the 2016 USL season, their first in the league. Today the Rangers announced that they'd signed four more players to contracts for the upcoming season; forwards Dane Kelly and Kris Tyrpak, defender Johnny Grant, and goalkeeper Zac Lubin. All four are USL veterans having played for different teams in the league in 2015 will join the team's first signing, Christian Duke on the inaugural Rangers team.
The other forward, Tyrpak is 23, but already has experience in all three professional levels in the United States. Tyrpak was drafted by Chivas USA in the 2014 Superdraft appearing in nine games, scoring one goal and adding an assist in the Goats final season in MLS. He was selected by the San Jose Earthquakes in the dispersal draft at the end of the 2014 season. Tyrpak didn't last in preseason with the Earthquakes and was cut, moving on and signing with his home town team, the Austin Aztex, scoring nine goals and adding two assists before finishing the 2015 season with the NASL's San Antonio Scorpions where he scored twice.
Grant, the 22 year old defender from Canada may be the one signing with the most upside of any of the four. Grant is a Canadian youth international having played for the Canadian U23 team as well as being called up to the full Canadian team at the beginning of last year but did not appear for the full team. Last season Grant played with FC Montreal appearing 10 times after signing in May. Grant also spent time in KC this past October as he was part of the Canadian U23 team that participated in Olympic qualifying at Sporting Park.
Lubin was captain for the Tulsa Roughnecks in their inaugural season and split time in goal with the club's other goalkeeper, Jake Feener. Lubin played in 15 of the Roughnecks 28 games, starting 14 of those games. In that time he amassed a 4-8-3 record as the Roughnecks went 11-11-6 on the season. He had a goals against average of 1.8 and had two shutouts while leading the league in saves per game at 4.87. The 26 year old has also spent time abroad with IFK Lulea in the Swedish third division. Before that he played in the PDL in the Pacific Northwest with the Kitsap Pumas and the Seattle Sounders U23 team.
All four are strong signings for the expansion side and speak to the direction that the Rangers are going. While they'll certainly look to develop players that won't be their sole priority in their first season. Kelly and Tyrpak give SPR a good scoring punch up front and Grant provides some of that potential development that the USL teams are supposed to do for the parent club. I think the quotes in the press release also speak to some of the advantages that the Rangers have in player development as well as getting existing USL talent.
Kelly said that he saw this move as a step forward for himself and "I want to pursue an opportunity to make it to the first team with Sporting Kansas City."
The fact that there is that path to the first team is a carrot hanging in front of these players and on the surface may see the Rangers grab some decent young talent from the USL, especially based on this quote from Tyrpak in the press release: "The whole Kansas City operation is extremely professional. I have heard great things about them throughout the years and I was super excited to get the call to come to the new USL team."
KC's reputation for the MLS team is filtering down to the USL team and should give the team a roster boost. I think it'll do well to bring some of good USL talent they can develop while also giving a place for the club's loaned players and academy players to round out their professional game.