Saint Louis F.C. Set Club Record in Win vs. New York Red Bulls II
Photo Credit: Laurie Skrivan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis, MO- Tyler Blackwood is a man of many talents. Besides a successful career as a professional soccer player, he is also the author of a published children’s book called, “Clive the Croc Who Lost His Chomp.”
“I wrote it when I was in college studying English literature and language,” said Blackwood. “I had it on my hard drive for a long time, and when I was in Sacramento, I wanted to see if I could do something with it. It got a great response from fans, people back home, and it’s been really humbling the way it’s been accepted.”
Blackwood’s latest work of literature isn’t finished yet, as he is currently rewriting the history books of Saint Louis Football Club alongside his teammates.
In front of a near capacity crowd of 5,462 Wednesday night, STLFC won their fifth match in a row, beating the first place New York Red Bulls II by a score of 2-0.
The five-game winning streak is the longest in club history while STLFC also kept their fourth straight clean sheet in a row, which ties the club record that was set at the end of last season.
“I think you have to give credit to (New York) Red Bulls II, they present challenges that nobody else does in this league,” said STLFC head coach Anthony Pulis. “To get another clean sheet and beat the top of the table team is obviously a fantastic result.”
STLFC got off to a flying start in the 3rd minute when Kyle Greig won possession in the attacking third. The ball was worked out to the left flank for Russell Cicerone, who’s cross towards the back post was met by a lunging Blackwood. The forward would poke the ball into the roof of the net for his fourth goal in four games and give STLFC the early 1-0 lead.
NYRB II, who came into the match with the second-best goal-scoring record in the USL Championship at 66, struggled to create offensive chances. In the 28th minute, Greig would find some space at the top of the box, but he dragged his shot wide.
In the 40th minute, STLFC put together a nice team move that would set up Lewis Hilton at the top of the box, but he sent his shot way over the bar. The half would end without NYRB II recording a single shot on target.
STLFC would start the second half on the front foot as Blackwood made a long run into the box from midfield off a throw-in in the 50th minute. He cut the ball back to Cicerone, but the winger would see his shot blocked by the NY defense.
NY’s only chance of the match came in the 61st minute when their star midfielder Jared Stroud fired off a shot from just inside the box, but STLFC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez got down to make the save and hold onto the rebound.
Chaos ensued a minute later as Cicerone let loose a powerful shot that forced a fantastic save from goalkeeper Evan Louro. The rebound fell to Grieg at the back post, but his effort was also stopped by Louro. Hilton would get the final crack at converting the chance, but his shot was deflected out by the outstretched legs of the NY goalkeeper.
STLFC were able to put away their next chance in the 70th minute, albeit with a little luck. Kadeem Dacres made a run into the box but collided with his teammate, substitute Masta Kacher. Both players were close enough to an opposing defender that the referee awarded STLFC a penalty, which captain Sam Fink was able to convert for his seventh goal of the season.
“I don’t really think about much as I’m stepping up (to take a penalty), the world just slows down for a minute,” said Fink. “I’ve said all along that I like to have that responsibility on my shoulders to make it or to miss it.”
STLFC nearly made it 3-0 in the 89th minute when substitute Paris Gee was in on goal, but his left-footed shot would trickle just wide. The club would hold NY to just the one shot on target in another emphatic display of defense.
“The defense has been incredible. I said to Phan (Phanuel Kavita) and Sam (Fink) they need to open a laundromat with all these clean sheets,” said Blackwood.
Due to results elsewhere, STLFC remain one point behind 8th place, but were able to open up a five-point gap between themselves and the last playoff spot in 10th. Their next match is on the road this Saturday vs. Memphis 901 FC before they return home on September 28th to take on Atlanta United 2.