Saint Louis F.C. Drop Points Again In Draw vs. Loudoun United F.C.
St. Louis, MO- As a part of the July 4th weekend celebrations, Saint Louis F.C. fans were treated to a firework show at the conclusion of their match vs. Loudoun United F.C. As for the match itself, there wasn’t as much to celebrate.
In front of a crowd of 4,564 people, STLFC came back from two goals down to earn a point vs. Loudoun United F.C. in a 2-2 draw. The result extended STLFC’s winless streak in league play to seven games.
“I’m incredibly proud of the players for coming back from two goals down,” said STLFC head coach Anthony Pulis. “I think they showed what they’re about from a mentality standpoint. At the same time, I’m frustrated and disappointed because we gave ourselves too much of a mountain to climb again and we have to stop doing that.”
Outside of their two goalkeepers, STLFC were only able to dress fourteen field players, a predicament that was compounded when forward Albert Dikwa was replaced by Kyle Greig in the 10th minute due to injury.
Both teams struggled in the opening half hour to create any strong chances. The home fans finally had something to cheer for in the 32nd minute when winger Russell Cicerone put the ball in the back of the net, but he was ruled offside.
Loudoun created the first promising opportunity of the match in the 41st minute and they took it in stride. Midfielder Orlando Sinclair was played in on the right side of the box and his cutback found captain Kyle Murphy for the opening goal. It was the forward’s team-leading fifth goal of the season.
STLFC would go on to finish the half without a single shot on target and not many options in regard to adjustments from the bench.
The home side came out strong in the second half when Cicerone played a cross back post to an open Greig, but his shot careened off his shin and over the bar.
That miss proved costly in the 51st minute when Loudoun midfielder Antonio Bustamante collected a short corner and found midfielder Nelson Martinez wide open on the inside left portion of the box. Martinez’s shot curled beautifully to the right side of the net to extend the lead to 2-0.
STLFC continued to struggle on offense and their frustrations began to boil over in the 55th minute when midfielder Lewis Hilton was issued a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. However, in the 57th minute, a breakthrough finally came.
Cicerone got open once again along the right flank and he sent another back post cross towards Greig. The forward made no mistake this time, slamming his header past goalkeeper Earl Edwards to make the score 2-1. The goal was Greig’s 50th USL goal, making him the eighth player in league history to achieve that milestone.
“Fifty goals is a big milestone for me,” said Greig. “I think, for St. Louis, I’m playing my smartest and best football, and hopefully I can build on that tally and score more goals for this club.”
STLFC’s new signing Matt Thomas made his club debut as a substitute in the 60th minute as his team continued to search for an equalizer. Greig was played in behind once again in the 67th minute, but Edwards came out to snuff out the chance.
The tying goal came in the 73rd minute when Hilton’s shot attempt from the right side of the six-yard box flashed across the face of goal. Cicerone was waiting at the back post and was able to win a battle vs. a Loudoun defender to poke it home and make the score 2-2.
Thomas missed his chance to be the hero in the 80th minute when he was in on goal after an impressive counter attack from a Loudoun corner, but the winger pulled his shot inches wide of the right post. STLFC had to settle for their second consecutive 2-2 draw at home.
“We put together a little push at the end, but sometimes that last pass was letting us down,” said Cicerone. “When it comes to that final pass, we have to get balls in the box, and we have to start burying chances in those crucial moments to give us wins.”
The focus now shifts to what is arguably the biggest game in STLFC’s history on Wednesday when they travel to Atlanta to take on the reigning MLS champions Atlanta United in the U.S. Open Cup.
“We’re under no illusions, it’s going to be an unbelievably difficult game,” said Pulis. “But I think it’s a challenge that we can relish and try and enjoy.”