The Miami FC Blues crushed the long-shot playoff hopes of the expansion AC St. Louis team for 2010 on Wednesday night, downing AC St. Louis 4-2. With AC St. Louis’ loss, the eight playoff teams in the USSF D2 are set — Rochester, Vancouver, Austin, Portland, Carolina, Montreal, NSC Minnesota and Puerto Rico. NSC Minnesota is the one of the four 2010 USSF D2 expansion clubs to qualify for postseason play. The playoffs begin on October 6-7.
AC St. Louis’s basic shot at making the playoffs was to win out in its remaining three games, and hope for help from other teams to sneak into the playoffs. But instead, Miami FC took the lead at Lockhart Stadium and won their third consecutive game, avenging an earlier loss in St. Louis and tying AC St. Louis in points for 4th place in the NASL Conference.
AC St. Louis looked prepared for this crucial contest at the outset. Both teams threatened early. A headed goal by Miami FC was called back in the fifteenth minute because of a Miami foul. Shortly thereafter, Brad Stisser, who was AC St. Louis’ most dangerous player of the evening, looked likely to score on a shot from the left that Miami FC goalkeeper Matt Glaeser got a hand on, and the shot deflected off of the far post and out. Stisser had another chance later in the half, but his low shot went just wide of the Miami net.
Miami FC threatened several times, with a cross going across the AC St. Louis box that none of the Blues could corral and later a header from Danilo Martins that AC St. Louis goalkeeper Alec Dufty handled well. Late in the half, veteran Abe Thompson carried his young teammates to the lead. Two AC St. Louis defenders collided in the box, and Thompson gathered up the loose ball, making a nice move before slotting past Dufty to give Miami FC a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute that they carried into halftime.
Thompson Gets Hat Trick, Stisser Scores Twice
But Mr. Thompson was far from done for the evening. Taking advantage of some sloppy defensive work, Thompson built Miami FC’s lead to 3-0 early in the second half. A Gerson Mayen shot in the 56th minute was cleared off the line by AC St. Louis defender Zach Bauer, but the ball bounced around in the box, and Abe Thompson knew exactly what to do with it. Minutes later, Thompson got his hat trick as Dufty missed a tough cross by Euzebio Neto and Thompson was in the right place to knock the ball into the empty net.
But to their credit, AC St. Louis didn’t hang their heads and give up. At the hour mark, the St. Louisans took advantage of a defensive lapse by the Blues, and Stisser got an outstretched foot on a low cross by Luke Kreamalmeyer to beat Matt Glaeser. With a goal on the board, one sensed that AC St. Louis were getting back in the game with a half an hour left, but Paulo Le Petit dashed their hopes shortly after with a nice move on AC St. Louis defender Jack Traynor, and pushed a nice swerving shot from outside the 18 yard box to beat an outstretched Dufty and give Miami FC a 4-1 lead. Brad Stisser got another goal, his fifth of the season, halving Miami’s lead, but AC St. Louis could come no closer, and their slim playoff hopes evaporated with a 4-2 loss.
Although Coach Schilly and his players will be disappointed with tonight’s result, they’ve come a long way in their first season as a team, and for many of the players, their first season as professionals. As a fan, I’m proud of the effort of the staff and the players that gained the team respect throughout the league. And I don’t forget the efforts of those no longer with the club, such as Claude Anelka, Francisco Filho, Steve Ralston and Manu Kante who worked hard to build this team and taught the young players. Salud.
For Miami FC, Coach Daryl Shore’s fourth win since taking over a few months back has to feel really good, and vindicate the work of the front office during a season that has had its share of frustrations. Another win or two before the season ends would be great for Miami FC followers. With so much young talent on the club, fans will be anxious for the start of the 2011 season.
AC St. Louis plays at Austin Saturday evening before ending its season the following Saturday at home against the Rochester Rhinos. Miami FC host the Rhinos this Saturday before ending the year at home against the Puerto Rico Islanders.
Notes: Another great game for Brad Stisser. Brad’s had some injuries this season, but he’s really played with confidence the last few games and demonstrated his talent. Abe Thompson has scored five goals in his last three games — three of them game winners. Matt Glaeser made his third consecutive start and gets credit for a 3-0 season record in goal. His predecessor, Caleb Patterson, was in the Miami booth doing commentary and did well. Caleb also has a blog on the Miam FC website that you may be interested in.
AC St. Louis Starting Lineup: Dufty, Velten, Bauer, Bloom, Traynor, Salvaggione, Cole, Videira, Kreamalmeyer, Stiisser, Ambersley Subs Used: Luis Gil, Jeff Cosgriff
Miami FC Starting Lineup: Glaeser, Randolph, Hohlbein, Lancaster, Goldberg, Le Petiit, Shriver, Roddrigues, Mayen, Martins, Thompson Subs Used: Euzebio Neto, Edward Santeliz, Sean Cameron, Pablo Martin Nunez, Chris Gbandi