Saint Louis FC lost their first match of the season and will look to move forward this weekend.
It happened. The unbeaten run is over. The world is crumbling around our feet and the end is nigh. Ok, that is all a bit overdramatic, but it is sad to see an undefeated run come to an end, especially for a team as endearing as Saint Louis FC (see video of Saint Louis FC captain, Sam Fink announcing to Albert Dikwa that all his teammates chipped in to buy plane tickets for a few of Albert’s family members to come to watch him play). I mean, come on. That’s the type of ‘Can’t stop watching this,’ ‘All the feels,’ tear-jerking type of content the American people need right now. And, Saint Louis FC’s unending hard work corresponds perfectly with this feeling. While it’s never great to see such a team’s undefeated run come to an end, that video and an overall unwarranted feeling of optimism have me looking at the bright side.
Now that Saint Louis FC have suffered their first loss of the season, 3-2 at home in a barn burner of a match against Birmingham Legion, the pressure is off. One might argue that the pressure is now on, the pressure to get back to winning ways. To that person, I say, can it. The pressure is most definitely off. No more pressure. Who cares? I have never played at the professional level, but these guys, though mentally very tough, are still humans with, whether you choose to accept it or not, feelings and thoughts like you and, dare I say, me. When I was playing, often the pressure of continuing to do very well was greater than the pressure of slipping up every now and again. I never really felt the pressure of being consistently bad, so I can’t speak on that, but I imagine that pressure kind of surmounts the other types of pressure. I don’t see any indication that this Saint Louis team, with the character they have, will ever descend into the realm of pressure felt by perennially bad teams.
Looking forward, Saint Louis FC travel to Pittsburgh this week to take on a Riverhounds SC side that is coming off of two pretty big wins against Louisville City and Hartford Athletic. All signs are pointing to this being a massive test as Riverhounds seem to be hitting a stride. I think, whatever the result of this one may end up, the game will be a fair judge of the character of this Saint Louis team. After Pittsburgh, Saint Louis FC are back at World Wide Technology Soccer Park for two weeks in a row, with 7:30 kickoffs, first on Saturday, April 27 against Swope Park Rangers – a team that could feature ex-Arsenal player Gedion Zelalem – and then Saturday May 4 against Ottawa Fury, a side that saw off Birmingham Legion earlier this season.
It is Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup time and I am looking forward to following Saint Louis FC’s run in the cup competition. I personally love the idea of this becoming a more popular competition and hope that ESPN+’s coverage of it will increase interest and awareness. The Open Cup hasn’t quite reached the ‘magic of the cup’ levels in recent times, other than a few instances of the past or of other examples of similar competitions such as England’s FA Cup, but the idea that this could be possible in the next few years is exciting.
It was announced Wednesday that STL will face the winner of Des Moines Menace (USL League Two) and Duluth FC (NPSL) in the second round of the cup on May 14 or 15. STL will play host if Duluth is the winning team but would travel to Des Moines should the Menace be the opponent. According to the Saint Louis FC website, Saint Louis FC has faced Des Moines Menace and Duluth FC each once before in the U.S. Open Cup. Saint Louis FC hosted Des Moines Menace in 2015 and won 2-1 on the way to advancing to the fourth round to face Sporting KC. In 2018, the club would travel to Duluth FC and win 2-0 before being eliminated in the third round by Louisville City FC. Saint Louis FC has competed in the U.S. Open Cup in each of the club’s four seasons with the following results:
Second Round – Saint Louis FC 2-1 Des Moines Menace
Third Round – Saint Louis FC 1-1 (3-1) Minnesota United
Fourth Round – Sporting Kansas City 1-0 Saint Louis FC
Second Round – Saint Louis FC 2-0 AFC Cleveland
Third Round – Saint Louis FC 0-2 Minnesota United
Second Round – FC Wichita 3-4 Saint Louis FC
Third Round – Michigan Bucks 1-2 Saint Louis FC
Fourth Round – Saint Louis FC 0-1 Chicago Fire
Second Round – Duluth 0-2 Saint Louis FC
Third Round – Louisville City FC 1-0 Saint Louis FC
There has been a little controversy surrounding the actual openness and inclusivity of the Open Cup, but I am definitely excited at the prospect of see MLS competition come to Saint Louis, that is if they can make it past the next two rounds. Also according to the Saint Louis FC website, should Saint Louis FC face Duluth FC in the second round, information on tickets will be released as soon as possible. New for the 2019 edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, every game of this year’s competition from the First Round to the Cup Final will be broadcast on ESPN+.