AC St. Louis plays its first game in the grand city of Montreal Wednesday night at 6:30 pm CDT. The two teams met for the first time July 10, with AC St. Louis playing its best game in its short existence, beating the Impact 3-0. Impact Coach Marc Dos Santos considered that game the Impact’s worst performance of the season, and consequently has made changes to his roster. This time, AC St. Louis will have a thinner squad, as the toll of injured players mounts for the expansion team. Both teams are coming off losses, with Montreal losing Sunday to Crystal Palace Baltimore 2-1 and AC St. Louis being shut out 2-0 in Austin.
The Impact cut ties with Panamanian forward Roberto Brown and have brought in three veterans since playing AC St. Louis ten days ago; forward Ali Gerba, midfielder Antonio Ribeiro and defender Wesley Charles. Gerba and Ribeiro both have international caps with the Canadian national team, with Gerba’s 15 goals in 29 contests tying him with Dwayne De Rosario for Canada’s lead in international goals among active players. Gerba has played for Milton Keynes Dons, Toronto FC, and professionally in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Both he and Ribiero have been members of the Impact in the past, and Ribeiro played seven games for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2009. Wesley Charles played ten years professionally in Ireland, for Sligo Rovers, Bray Wanderers and Galway United.
Both teams are suffering from injuries. Impact midfielder Leonardo Di Lorenzo is out with a calf injury, while defender Stephen deRoux is out for a month or better with a fractured cheekbone. Rookie midfielder Kevin Cossette is out for two weeks with a sprained ankle. But Montreal is getting back defender Adam Braz, who should be able to play Wednesday after suffering a hip contusion and goalkeeper Matt Jordan, who has begun practicing again after being out with injury.
AC St. Louis has its own injury woes. Defender Dillon Barna is out with a broken clavicle, and Chris Salvaggione suffered a sprained ankle against Austin and will miss Wednesday’s contest. Midfielder Jeff Cosgriff will also miss the game due to his automatic suspension for receiving a red card on Saturday night. Midfielders Gauchinho, Brad Stisser, Mike Ambersley and defenders Zach Bauer and Anthony O’Garro are also banged up, but may be able to play. If the entire quintet of players is unable to go Wednesday night, the Saints bench will be paper-thin.
Salvaggione and Cosgriff have scored four of the Saints last five goals, so Coach Dale Schilly will need some of his young players to step up if the team is to get results Wednesday and Saturday at Crystal Palace Baltimore. As Coach Schilly said, ““Obviously Montreal will be out gunning for us. They have made some changes, they have dropped some players, and brought some new players up. Montreal is going to be tough. Baltimore I don’t know as well. This trip is a different scenario for us because our players for the first time this year are heading into two games where they know they can get points rather than try and steal points. We’ll see how we can change things up and make it work for us for these next two games.”
AC St. Louis did make a roster move today, adding 6’4” Real Salt Lake rookie defender Chris Schuler, 22, on loan for at least four games. The former Creighton University star should be able to help, but he probably won’t be available until AC St. Louis’ July 28 home clash with the Portland Timbers. Wednesday’s game is quite important to both teams, as AC St. Louis needs points to get in the playoff hunt and Montreal can see Crystal Palace Baltimore only one point behind them for the final USSF D2 playoff spot. Should be an interesting match. Go AC !!!