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Is AC St. Louis becoming too “St. Louisy”?

Ralston: Made in St. Louis

First of all, I want to say that I am glad to see that we are finally starting to get a team going. We see the structure of the club, with both new players and coaches coming on board. And with the season less than two months away, it is nice to know that we are finally on track to see some professional men’s soccer in the Gateway City.

But, in the back of my mine, I wonder if we are building the team the right way. And the reason that I say that is because I fear that we are recruiting too many players from the St. Louis region.

Yes, Steve Ralston is a great signing. He is an amazing player that would be great on any of the NASL or, as we already know, MLS teams. So the fact that he is from the area doesn’t really effect my view on this subject. And yes, St. Louis is considered a birthplace of American soccer and continues to produce great talent. But it seems like we are getting a lot of other players that are from St. Louis just for the fact that they are from the city, and maybe not for their playing skills.

True, this is just the first few weeks of the club’s formation and every team goes through growing pains. And as Jeff Cooper said in a recent interview that the club will favor a local prospect over other options if the play is level. And, honestly, I am perfectly fine with that. But are the St. Louis area players that we are getting really the top possible players we can get at that position?

Honestly, I know a lot more about French soccer than I collegate soccer. In fact, I am an idiot when it comes to collegate soccer and the USL Second Division. So I really can’t give you my opinion on Zach Bauer, Tim Velton (who has played professionally for three years now) or Jack Traynor (who did play 20 matches for Miami FC last year). And because I cannot give you my opinion, I won’t make one up. I will just have to see how they play.

On the other hand, I can tell you a little bit about the French players that we have coming in.  Wilfrid Loizeau played for Paris FC, my favorite team, and Créteil, which are equilivant to your average USL 1st Division team from last year, maybe a tad better. In addition to him playing for these teams, he came up through the Auxerre youth program, which isn’t shabby at all.

Manuel Kante played in the Championnat National as well for AS Beauvais Oise. He also spent some time in Portugal, Greece and Scotland. So, he also seems to be on the same level of play that is expected in the NASL. We can already see that AC St. Louis, with both Claude Anelka and Francisco Filho, is going to have the upper hand when it comes to signing French-influenced talent.

So, if the American talent is on par with the French talent, I feel pretty confident. Even so, the average age of this team is looking like it will be quite young. This should give Anelka and assistant coach Ralston some room to develop a team with absolute raw talent.

Still, I hope that we are building a team around talent instead of locals. And, in the end game, I am pretty sure that we are.

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6 Responses

  1. Did you see Tom Timmerman’s comments last week? He said that we’re pretty much screwed for the beginning of the season because with the transfer window closed, we can only sign players out of contract. Add in the fact that USSF has put a lock down on D2 teams picking off MLS players and the market is really barren. I think we’ll see much better signings in the summer.

  2. Yeah, I know. Pretty much the only MLS players that we can get are the one out of contract, or the ones that refuse a contract extension, like Ralston.

    Still, I’m sure we can find some more out of contract players outside of St. Louis. The question is if they are quality or not. We will see.

  3. A first year team, in any sport, is going to have a lot of roster turnover. As MLS and the other Div 2 teams make their roster cuts, we’ll have more signings. Already NY Red Bulls have waived GK Danny Cepero, who could be an answer for us. Our signings so far have been decent, and getting Ralston was a major coup. Considering that AC St Louis is operating within a three month window from USSF sanctioning to opening day, things are coming along. We’re all excited, but patience will be key the next few months. What we can do, as fans this first season, is get our butts in the seats at Soccer Park, sing, cheer,
    buy jerseys and scarves and show the soccer world that St. Louis is a great place to play. I have great faith that Jeff Cooper and Franciso Filho will do their parts; the rest of the equation is us doing ours.

  4. bend-it is right on. Building anything from the ground up is a task full of trial and error. Sure St Louis players would be good for a number of reasons, but let’s not forget that in many, many instances, soccer in California, New Jersey, Oregon and other places has surpassed the great history we have enjoyed. When the Billikens won all those titles , there were only a small handful of serious college programs nationwide. Now is the time and the opportunity to prove that St. Louis is the “soccer capital”, “home of soccer” or whatever claim we so often hear. So mix in some Latinos, Asians, my God, even a Texan if he can show flair and creativity on the field.

  5. I’m thinking about getting season tickets for this year. Any suggestions on what level will be the best?

  6. I think the way AC St. Louis is doing things is spot on. It looks to me like they’re considering this a building year, which makes sense cause its their first. It’s also the ONLY season of the current league, so it’s a great way to tune up for the first REAL NASL season next year.
    Most of the NASL teams, with the exception of teams like Montreal are struggling just to get full rosters together. AC St. Louis seems to be the best planned and executed in the bunch, and while they probably won’t win the league the first season, they’ll be in a better position next year because of the way they’ve handled things this preseason.

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