Saints’ March: St Louis FC Gets Production From Locals and Loanees
Absence makes the heart grow fonder—Matthew Bird checks in on Saint Louis FC after a bye week as Chicago Fire loanees and StL locals make their mark.
Been awhile since I last updated on what’s been going on down here in sunny Saint Louis, We’ve had three games and a bye week. Bye weeks suck. I mean seriously, you don’t have professional soccer in the city for 5 years…
You deal with it admirably, making the best of a bad situation. Then you get a team finally and don’t have a game for two weeks and you’re pacing the living room anxiously looking at the calendar hoping Saturday gets here quickly.
On April 25th, a few friends and I drove down to Oklahoma City to watch Saint Louis take on the OKC energy at their new refurbished Taft stadium. As the St Louligans supporters group, we hadn’t the best time interacting with the Energy fans, so it was with some trepidation that I went down there not really knowing what to expect. Well, it was just great. Within 30 seconds of arriving I was being handed Fireball and was treated like a long lost friend.
The game went well too; always nice to get a come from behind win on someone else’s turf. I think OKC were a little complacent, having been unbeaten thus far, but that’s not to take credit away from our 2-1 win with goals coming from Mike Ambersley and Jamiel Hardware. We had lost our holding midfielder Brandon Barklage to a foot injury so Fire loanee Greg Cochrane came in and didn’t miss a beat—looking cool, calm and assured at the back.
Then the bye week, ugh. It was like a 12 year old waiting for Christmas. We were playing Wilmington Hammerheads next up, and they’d just been battered at home by Harrisburg. We felt really good about getting our first win at home. Chicago players Patrick Doody and Alec Kann were back in the lineup after missing OKC due to injury and rotation and Wilmington didn’t look like a team who were just demolished seven days prior. We huffed and puffed and just couldn’t blow their house down. Whilst I concentrate on the Fire players for you gentle Chicagoan readers, I personally was proud when two locals, Mike Roach taking the corner and Sam Fink getting his head on the only goal of the game to much merriment in the crowd, and to be honest, a huge sigh of relief in the 82nd minute that we finally had the win less at home monkey off our back.
Great eh? Isn’t life wonderful? Here we go again, a second game of possibly five at home in 19 days and looking for our third win on the bounce! We scored early too, Naperville native Bryan Gaul pouncing on a giveaway and we’re 1-0 ahead after a minute. This is where the feel good train comes to a grinding halt. As Toronto FC 2 came back hard, with vengeance and took just half an hour to take the lead themselves after two counter attacks were converted. Twelve shots later in the second half and still the same score. Just one of those days I suppose. Fair play to Toronto, they were a lot better than their 1-4 record showed and we’re slowly coming to terms with the fact that there is no easy three points in USL.
OTF Contributor Matt Bird is a native of Manchester England, but has lived in St. Louis 3 years. Denouncing the myth that United fans don’t come from Manchester one country at a time. He podcasts and writes for StLouligans.com and can be followed at @matthewb76.