On a beautiful evening in St. Louis, it was the Saints turn to shine. Needing a win to close the gap on NSC Minnesota and FC Tampa Bay for the last USSF D2 playoff spot, the young expansion team rose to the challenge, passing Crystal Palace Baltimore in the NASL Conference standings and climbing to within two points of the Stars and Rowdies. The home crowd was delighted with the effort.
Miami FC certainly came to play in this first match between the two clubs, but it was AC St. Louis that almost scored first around the fifteenth minute when forward Chris Salvaggione streaked down the field, but his shot was deflected and scooped up by Miami FC goalkeeper Caleb Patterson. Five minutes later, AC St. Louis took the lead when Salvaggione’s fellow forward from Colorado, Brad Stisser, put a nice headed shot past Patterson off a Luke Kreamalmeyer free kick. Patterson madfe a nice save a few minutes a few minutes later on another chance by Stisser, but Miami FC began pushing forward and looked to have a chance on a handball in the 37th minute in front of the AC St. Louis goal. In the stands we debated who’s hand actually touched the ball, but no call was made against AC St. Louis and play resumed.
AC St. Louis goalkeeper Alec Dufty was called upon to make a big save in the 41st minute on a header by the Blues’ Gerson Mayen, diving to his left to deny the Chivas USA loanee his first USSF D2 goal. His Chivas USA teammate, Chukwudi Chijindu, looked to even the match before the half but the young Miami FC was denied as Dufty broke up run on goal.
Miami FC kept up the pressure in the second half, and finally equalized in the 63rd minute as MLS veteran Abe Thompson chipped a rebound from a Paulinho Le Petit shot into the AC St. Louis net. The pace didn’t lessen, as both teams desperately needed a win, and AC St. Louis’ scoring leader, Mike Ambersley, came to the rescue of the St. Louis fans in the 71st minute, scoring his 9th goal of the season. Ambersley made a nifty move inside the box after Stisser had kept the ball alive to give the Saints the lead they so desperately needed. A low cross by defender Mark Bloom running up the right flank deflected off the heels of Miami FC defender Martyn Lancaster into the Miami net four minutes later for an own goal, and that clinched the win for the St. Louisans.
“We weren’t good enough in the defensive end of the field tonight,” said Head Coach Daryl Shore. “We have to keep going because mathematically, we aren’t out of this. It’s not going to be easy, but we have to keep going.” It will be very tough for the hardluck Miami team to make the playoffs now, as they sit on 20 points with five games left. Next Saturday the Blues host the Montreal Impact and USSF D2 Player of the Month Ali Gerba.
For the triumphant St. Louisans, tonight’s win was the biggest of the season. In a must-win situation, they proved that they could get three points when it was needed. Despite being outshot 14-7 by Miami, the defending was stout. In one offensive sequence by the Blues, they had three consecutive shots around the 18 yard box blocked by defenders. Congratulations to Coach Schilly and his staff for having his team well-prepared and ready for the challenge. AC St. Louis plays four of their final five games at home, including next Saturday’s crucial match with Mississippi River rivals NSC Minnesota. The Stars and the Saints have played very evenly matches this season. In all four previous matches between the two expansion clubs (including a meeting in the US Open Cup), AC St. Louis has taken the lead, but three times Manny Lagos’ Stars have come back to draw or win the contest. Next Saturday’s match at AB Soccer Park will be huge.
Notes: There was so much young talent on both teams on display tonight…Sixteen year-old Luis Gil made his second consecutive start for AC St. Louis, and after being knocked hard off the ball early in the match played quite well, and I was thinking that most young men his age are starting their high school seasons. Brad Stisser was Man of the Match, with a goal, an assist and another chance that was denied. I was disappointed to not see Paulo Jr. play for the Blues tonight, and wonder if the MLS Rumors report of him heading to the LA Galaxy are true. Got to chat with ACSTL defender Zach Bauer’s family at halftime — great people. After trying to figure out much of this season why Miami FC hasn’t gotten more wins in 2010, I still can’t figure it out. There is so much talent on this club. I know there are some defensive problems, but I’m wondering if they haven’t just been very unlucky this season also.
Don’t forget the SPENSA charity. Some donations have been coming in since we published our article about this noteworthy organization that helps young special needs athletes get a chance to get their kicks with no costs to their families. For more information, see http://acstlfanatic.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/spensa-helps-special-needs-individuals-get-their-kicks-you-can-help-too/
AC St. Louis Starting Lineup: Dufty, Traynor, Schuler, Bauer, Videira, Kreamalmeyer, Gil, Gauchinho, Salvaggione, Stisser, Ambersley Subs Used: Cole, Bloom,Cosgriff
Miami FC Starting Lineup: Patterson, Lancaster, Hohlbein, Gbandi, Mayen, Le Petit, Celestino, Thompson, Martins, Gomez, Chijindu Subs Used: Nunez, Rodrigues, Neto, Shriver, Goldberg
Filed under: AC St. Louis, Miami FC, NASL General News, USSF Division 2 News, Website News Tagged: | Alec Dufty, Brad Stisser, Caleb Patteson, Chukwudi Chijindu, Dale Schilly, Daryl Shore, Mike Ambersley