The Carolina RailHawks are coming to AB Soccer Park for a 7:10 pm Saturday night clash with AC St. Louis. The RailHawks are in third place in the NASL Conference of USSF D2 with a 3-2-6 record, while AC St. Louis are in last with a 2-7-2 record. AC St. Louis’ record of over 425 shutout minutes was ended in US Open Cup play by St. Louisan Chris Klein of the LA Galaxy, who went on to knock AC St. Louis out of the Cup with a 2-0 victory. AC St. Louis had been on a four game unbeaten streak in all competitions before running aground against the Galaxy. The RailHawks are riding a seven game unbeaten streak in league play since losing at home to FC Tampa Bay on May 14. Saturday night is the first of a four game roadtrip for Carolina, who surrendered a 2-0 lead in the last 15 minutes Saturday against the Montreal Impact to draw 2-2.
The RailHawks are led offesnsively by veteran Etienne Barbara, who is tied for fourth in the USSF D2 scoring race with five goals. Barbara scored both goals in the RailHawks season opening win against AC St. Louis. Daniel Paladini, Floyd Franks and Sallieu Bundu have chipped in two goals apiece for the RailHawks. Coach Martin Rennie has a well-disciplined squad, as they rank second (only behind AC St. Louis) in least fouls committed and our third in goals allowed, having given up only 11 goals in 11 games. They rank seventh in both goals scored and corner kicks taken, but are second last in the league in shots taken, just above AC St. Louis. They are a veteran team, averaging almost 28 years in players ages. Eric Reed has started nine of the team’s eleven games in goal, with Nic Platter, the former Minnesota Thunder player, starting the other two. Defenders Matt Bobo and Mark Schulte lead the team in minutes played, with 986 and 944 respectively. The RailHawks have two clean sheets and have been shutout once this season.
For AC St. Louis, Saturday night’s home game is an opportunity to build on the momentum of a four game unbeaten streak and a good performance in their Open Cup loss Tuesday to the LA Galaxy. New coach Dale Schilly has had a week of practices and two games to evaluate his players. He has implemented a more attacking offense than the French-style defense oriented game under former coach Claude Anelka, although the team has been unlucky to not tally since Schilly’s appointment. Goalkeeper Alec Dufty has kept an impressive five clean sheets in all competitions, as the 6’5″ keeper has benefitted from increased experience and confidence, and a more cohesive backline. Rookie defender Mark Bloom leads the team (besides Dufty, who has played every minute) with 960 minutes, and fellow defender Tim Velten has only missed one game because of a red-card suspension. Brazilian midfielder Gauchinho has featured regularly since arriving. Mike Ambersley has a penchant for scoring big goals, with Brad Stisser and Luke Kreamalmeyer also netted recently. AC St. Louis will be captained by Jack Traynor, the native St. Louisan who played for Miami FC in 2009. The young AC St. Louis team has a 1-2-1 record at home.
AC St. Louis played Carolina pretty evenly in the season opener after conceding two goals early while being a man down in the freakish situation where Manu Kante wasn’t allowed to play until he produced identification. AC St. Louis is getting healthier, as SIUE product Zach Bauer will dress for the game after missing the last seven league games with a foot injury. Midfielder Hagop Chirishian is also back to health, and Elvir Kafedzic has been able to play recently in a substitute role as he gains full recovery from a knee injury. The weather in St. Louis will be more hospitable than last Saturday’s sauna like conditions. I expect AC St. Louis to get its first goal(s) under Coach Schilly, and to continue their bright play on offense and to be solid defensively. The RailHawks are a disciplined, veteran squad, and while not a prolific scoring team, they have only been shut out once in league play, so AC St. Louis will have to focus on keeping Carolina off the board. With no disrepect to the RailHawks, this is a game that AC St. Louis can win…and needs to win to climb into playoff contention. The season is only a third over, and with eight of the twelve USSF D2 teams eligible for the post-season, AC St. Louis can make it into the playoffs with the majority of their remaining games being played at home. Should be a fun night. Bring a friend. Call 1-800-STL-GOAL for ticket information. GO AC !!!
In other USSF D2 Saturday action, the Montreal Impact visit the hot Rochester Rhinos and Portland hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps in a Pacific Northwest derby. Sunday, FC Tampa Bay will look to avenge their Open Cup loss to Miami FC in a Florida battle while Crystal Palace Baltimore travels to NSC Minnesota, seeking revenge for NSC Minnesota’s victory in Baltimore last week.
Filed under: AC St. Louis, Carolina Railhawks, NASL General News, USSF Division 2 News, Website News | Tagged: AC St. Louis, Alec Dufty, Carolina Railhawks, Dale Schilly, Etienne Barbara, Martin Rennie |