Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

STLFC Gets Dream Showdown against Sporting KC

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

STLFC Gets Dream Showdown against Sporting KC

Article excerpt

The players on St. Louis FC know they're the underdogs in their U.S. Open Cup fourth-round match against Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan., on Tuesday. They're a third-division team taking on not just a first-division team, but a first-division team that has the second-best record in Major League Soccer at the moment.

"We're not too nave to think it's not going to be a massive challenge," forward Mike Ambersley said.

But it's also a challenge that they know can be met, because some of the players on the team have seen it happen, up close.

Ambersley has been on the winning end of an Open Cup upset a few times in his long trek through the lower divisions of American soccer. And midfielder Brandon Barklage has been on the losing end, playing for the New York Red Bulls of MLS in 2012 when they lost to USL team Harrisburg. In each of the past two seasons, four lower- division teams have gotten past this round and into the round of 16.

"You get these lower-tiered teams that come into these games pumped up and it's almost like a World Cup for them," Barklage said, "and now I can see it from this side of things. It's a different perspective for me. It's a different perspective being part of this group. It's also exciting at the same time. We're amped to go out there and show our city and show Kansas City what we have."

One of the keys to an upset, Ambersley said, is keeping the game close. The longer a team like STLFC can do that, the better their chances.

"If the lower division team is staying around in the 60, 70, 80th minute, you start feeling the pressure, then that gives them confidence," said Ambersley, who pulled off upsets when he was with Rochester and Tampa. "The longer you can stay even or up a goal, the better off the lower division team is going to be. The higher division team is going to start pressing and that plays into the favor of the lower division team. Once they get impatient, you break on them and then there's gaps and holes and you'll see goals scored. That's what we'll try to do."

Scoring chances figure to be limited. STLFC hasn't been scoring many goals lately, just one in each of its past four games, so whatever chances they generate, they'll have to take advantage of. …

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