Season That Started With Promise Ends With Draw Sunday For Saint Louis FC
The 2017 United Soccer League season officially came to an end for Saint Louis FC yesterday with a 1-1 draw against Bethlehem Steel FC. Sebastian Dalgaard scored for STLFC late in the first half and Matthew Real answered for Bethlehem a minute later for the match’s only scoring.
Saint Louis FC finishes 2017 9-14-9 (36 points) and 12th overall in the Eastern Conference.
Bethlehem Steel FC finishes the regular season 12-12-8 (44 points) and qualifies for the USL Playoffs by finishing 8th overall in the East. The Pennsylvania club will travel to Kentucky to take on Louisville City FC in the first round on October 20.
Sunday’s game day roster featured some interesting decisions by Saint Louis FC head coach Predrag “Preki” Radosavljevic. Nick Radosavljevic, Preki’s son, got his first start and game action of the season. 4 other starters on Sunday — Aedan Stanley, Erick Cabalceta, Emmanuel Appiah and Daniel Jackson — saw fewer than 10 starts this season.
Goalkeeper Jack Filla made the trip to Bethlehem and was on the STLFC bench, but did not enter the match. Filla starred at the Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon, Missouri before moving on to Lewis and Clark Community College and then the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Filla is in his first season of professional soccer.
Octavio Guzman started his second match on Sunday since returning from the knee surgery he underwent back in August. He was subbed off at halftime for 17-year old Jack Maher, who made his first appearance for the club.
Maher, a Caseyville (IL) native, is a product of the St. Louis Scott Gallagher system. He traveled to the Czech Republic over the summer with the U.S. U-18 National Team for a tournament there along with Stanley. Maher is committed to play his college soccer at the University of Indiana.
Volesky Finishes As Leading Scorer
Christian Volesky finished the 2017 season as the leading scorer for Saint Louis FC with eight goals in thirty USL appearances. Seth Rudolph, who was awarded the Player of the Year award by the Louligans supporters’ group, finished with seven goals in 21 appearances.
As a team, Saint Louis FC scored 35 goals and conceded 48 in 32 USL matches this season for a goal differential of -13. Eleven of those thirteen goals came in just three matches, a 4-0 loss to FC Cincinnati, a 5-1 loss to the Charlotte Independence and a 4-1 loss to Louisville City FC.
STLFC finished just outside the Top 10 in terms of league attendance at World Wide Technology Soccer Park this season. A total of 73,139 fans passed through the gates of Toyota Stadium over the team’s 16 USL matches for an average attendance per match of 4,571.
U.S. Open Cup Again A Highlight Of The Season
STLFC has failed to make the playoffs in each of its three seasons of existence in the USL, an unfortunate streak of consistency.
One constant, however, has been the club’s success in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. That was again the case this season.
As a USL club STLFC enters the all-levels Open Cup in the second round of the tournament. In the second-round matchup this season, STLFC dispatched FC Wichita of the National Premier Soccer League 4-3 in extra time.
In the third round STLFC traveled to Michigan and beat the Michigan Bucks of the Premier Development League 2-1. The win meant a visit to Toyota Stadium in Fenton from the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer for a fourth-round matchup.
It took a highlight-reel goal from Luis Solignac for the Fire to advance and end STLFC’s Open Cup run. The night was special for St. Louis soccer fans as 5,786 fans packed Toyota Stadium. The club honored the nine St. Louis teams that have won the U.S. Open Cup as well as St. Louisan Josh Sargent, a SLSG product who had recently returned to St. Louis after a standout performance for the U.S. at the U-20 World Cup.
Sargent is currently playing with the U.S. National Team at the U-17 World Cup, where he serves as the team’s captain.
In 2015, the club’s first year, STLFC beat the Des Moines Menace to open the tournament before topping MLS-bound Minnesota United FC on penalty kicks. The club then traveled to Kansas City to face Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park, where the MLS club prevailed 1-0. Sporting would go on to win the 2015 U.S. Open Cup.
Are Changes Ahead For Saint Louis FC?
The first year of the Preki era for Saint Louis FC did not go as planned for anyone involved. Saint Louis FC CEO Jim Kavanaugh spoke glowingly of the former MLS Coach of the Year when the hire was announced more than a year ago.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about having him here, not only for STLFC but for the entire St. Louis Scott Gallagher club.”
Soccer America was among the outlets that reported on STLFC’s hire. Sports Illustrated also reported on the hire of the coach that was once in the discussion for a coaching job in the English Premier League.
Will Preki be at the helm when Saint Louis FC takes the field to start the 2018 USL campaign? That will likely be a decision made in the next couple of weeks by STLFC’s ownership and front office.
One thing that can be guaranteed is a shakeup of the roster. In the second tier of professional soccer in the country, where the USL sits, roster changes from season to season are inevitable.
Now, how many changes to the roster we see remains to be seen.
A big factor will be if Preki is in charge on the field next season, whether that be through his choice or the club’s. At the beginning of this season, the roster featured just four players that were with the club the previous season. One of those players, Chad Bond, did not see any action with STLFC this season before leaving St. Louis to sign with Oklahoma City Energy FC.
Making the playoffs will be just one goal for the Saint Louis FC organization in 2018. Stay tuned for what changes will be made in an attempt to meet that goal and exceed it.
In the meantime, 2018 season ticket information can be found at SaintLouisFC.com or by calling 636-680-0997.
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