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Vancouver Drops AC St. Louis 1-0, in a Tale of Two Halves

The Vancouver Whitecaps upped their season point total to seven out of a possible nine with a 1-0 victory over the visiting AC St. Louis team.  Defender Maloud Akloul scored off a corner kick in the 19th minute of the first half,  but was subsequently injured on the play and had to leave the game.  Vancouver captain Martin Nash assisted on the goal.  AC St. Louis returns home empty-handed from its West Coast road trip, taking on Crystal Palace Baltimore next Saturday at AB Soccer Park.

AC St. Louis’ performance was certainly a Jekyll and Hyde experience.  The first half was abysmal, with Vancouver dominating play completely. AC St. Louis were lucky to avoid a call for a Vancouver penalty kick, and seldom had the ball past midfield.  I can’t comment much about play in the first half because the live audio stream was constantly buffering, and it was really hard to get a feel for what individual players were doing.  Have no doubt, though, that Vancouver were clearly superior.  The corner kick total, five for the Whitecaps as opposed to one for AC St. Louis, is quite indicative of the balance of play.

The second half, however, was a different story for AC St. Louis, as the defense played its best game,  and though the offense sputtered yet again in the opposition’s final third, AC St. Louis did a much better job of maintaining possession and keeping the game in hand.    It was arguably the best half AC St. Louis played this season, as much as the first half was arguably its worst.  Coach Claude Anelka substituted freely, bringing in Tim Velten and Troy Cole at the half for Christian Nzinga and Manuel Kante, and later Ryan Moore and Jeff Cosgriff for Jack Traynor and Anthony O’Garro respectively.  Midfielder Gilbert Pogosayan also got a five-minute cameo appearance, replacing Hagop Chirishian.  AC St. Louis had a last gasp corner kick attempt in stoppage time, and even brought up goalkeeper Alec Dufty as they crowded the Vancouver box, but the team couldn’t convert, and the game ended shortly afterwards.

Again, its difficult to comment much about individual play because of the problematic live stream, but Alec Dufty certainly had a strong game in goal.  The 2nd half defensive foursome of Mark Bloom, Dillon Barna, Zach Bauer and Tim Velten played well as a unit, which is indeed promising for the future.  Our boys have certainly had a rough start, but its instructive to recall that they have played three of their first games on the road, against last season’s USL-1 second place team (Carolina), its first place team (Portland), and the runner-up to the playoff champions (Vancouver).    A paltry total of one goal in four games is discouraging, and injuries to Elvir Kafedzic and Brad Stisser up front have hindered the team.  But the defensive improvement was measurable tonight, and with our next week’s opponent, Crystal Palace Baltimore, scoreless in two home games (as I write this the Puerto Rico Islanders are up over CP Baltimore 3-0 late in the second half), I look forward to next Saturday night at AB Soccer Park as a real chance for AC St. Louis to get a result,  especially with the hometown fans will be in full support.

AC Starting Lineup:  Dufty, Bauer, Nzinga, Bloom, Barna, O’Barro, Traynor(captain), Kante, Chirishian, Kreamalmeyer and Titton.

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One Response

  1. We showed moments of cohesiveness and unity. Much better boys!!! Applause to AC……….And that was totally a GIFT from the ref to not award a penalty kick. Even through all the crappy streaming, the foul was more than evident.

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