Saint Louis F.C. Get Back On Track In Win vs. Hartford Athletic
Photo Credit: J.B. Forbes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis, MO- Fans of professional soccer in St. Louis who have been buzzing since the MLS announcement have also had to deal with the harsh reality of the current team, St. Louis Football Club, falling out of the playoff race amid a bad run of form. After going winless in the month of August, a breakthrough was finally made Sunday night.
In front of a crowd of 4,068 people at West Community Stadium, STLFC picked up three points for the first time since July 27th, defeating Hartford Athletic 3-2 in a thriller.
With three home games scheduled for this week, STLFC were desperate to break their five-game winless streak. They did so in style, scoring multiple goals in a match for the first time since their 3-0 win vs. Bethlehem Steel FC on the 27th.
“Delighted to get the three points, I think that is the most important thing at this stage of the season,” said STLFC head coach Anthony Pulis. “We didn’t make life easy for ourselves conceding the second goal, but all-in-all, I think it was a deserved victory and hopefully we can go on a little run now.”
STLFC came out guns blazing in the 6th minute when Russell Cicerone fired a shot through a crowd of defenders, but Hartford goalkeeper Cody Cropper got down just in time to make the save. Cicerone’s next offensive move would set up the opening goal.
In the 16th minute, the winger sent a curling effort on goal which forced another diving stop by Cropper, who parried the ball out of the box. The ball would eventually work its way to Kadeem Dacres, who’s thunderous shot from 25 yards out would find the top right corner of the goal and give STLFC the early 1-0 lead.
Dacres almost made it 2-0 in the 20th minute when he sent a left-footed effort from the top of the box towards the top left corner, but Cropper was up to the task this time and made the save.
Despite controlling the match from the beginning, STLFC’s momentum abruptly ended in the 29th minute when Hartford played a long ball into the box towards Alex Dixon. A miscommunication between goalkeeper Tomas Gomez and defender Sam Fink resulted in Fink passing the ball behind an approaching Gomez and into the back of the net for an own goal.
Hartford would pay for a mistake of their own in the 38th minute when a turnover in possession led to a breakaway for Kyle Greig, who would smash his shot into the bottom left corner to regain the lead for STLFC, who would maintain the 2-1 scoreline into halftime.
STLFC came out of the break on the front foot as Cicerone and Dacres each had good efforts in the opening 10 minutes of the half. The club would eventually be rewarded for their offensive push in the 65th minute.
After Hartford were unable to deal with the initial cross, Matt Bahner raced to meet the loose ball from his left back position. His cutback found a wide open Greig at the top of the six-yard box, who was able to direct the pass into the back of the net for his team-leading seventh goal and the 3-1 lead.
“We really wanted to put more balls in the box tonight and a lot of our goals came from that,” said Greig. “We were on the front foot, we put them under pressure by turning them back towards their goal, and we had a lot of success because of it.”
Hartford caught STLFC resting on their laurels in the 68th minute as Dixon’s cross from the right side found a wide-open Sebastian Dalgaard inside the box. Dalgaard, who played for STLFC in 2017, was able to keep his effort down just enough to see it ring off the underside of the crossbar and across the line to make the scoreline 3-2.
There were some hearts in throats among the STLFC supporters a minute later when substitute Jose Angulo, another former player, sent a shot towards goal, but Gomez was there to come up with the clutch save.
Hartford would continue to push for the equalizer but STLFC were able to hold them back with constant pressure. The frustration was clearly evident when Angulo talked himself into a red card after the final whistle had blown.
“We’ve been through a rough patch, but we got some resilient guys in that locker room,” said Dacres. “It was good to see us finally dig ourselves out of the hole that we were in.”
The win moves STLFC to within two points of the Charleston Battery who currently hold the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’ll have two more opportunities to claim three points this week, with the first being a home match vs. Ottawa Fury FC on Wednesday.