Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

STLFC Falls Short in U.S. Open Cup

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

STLFC Falls Short in U.S. Open Cup

Article excerpt

A year ago, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was a highlight of St. Louis FC's inaugural season.

The United Soccer League club, which finished 8-11-9 in league play and missed the playoffs, enjoyed a solid run in the Cup by defeating the Des Moines Menace in overtime and Minnesota United in penalty kicks in crowd-pleasing games at World Wide Technology Soccer Park.

Those victories earned STLFC a shot at Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City in the Cup's fourth round.

STLFC hung tough in front of 19,298 fans at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., losing 1-0 to Sporting KC, which went on to win the Open Cup title.

Wednesday night, before a crowd of 2,065 in Fenton, STLFC hosted Minnesota United in a rematch of last year's third-round game. With a win, STLFC would get a chance to host Sporting KC in the fourth round.

But the home team couldn't quite pull it off, dropping a 2-0 decision to the North American Soccer League club.

"I think if you take anything from tonight, you realize just how special that moment was last year," STLFC coach Dale Schilly said. "You want to achieve that again, but it's not something you can take for granted because it's a difficult thing to achieve. In my mind, this was a classic game.

"In general, I thought we played well. We created chances and the guys worked their tails off. We could've scored, probably should've scored but we didn't."

And Minnesota United did.

The visitors, coming off their first loss of the season and with an NASL record of 4-1-2, sat back through much of the first half and then turned up the pressure over the final 45 minutes.

They broke through in the 69th minute, taking advantage of a turnover near midfield as Tiago Calvano played the ball forward for Kevin Venegas, who was breaking in from the right side. STLFC keeper Mark Pais managed to get a piece of Venegas' low shot but not enough to keep it from finding the net for a 1-0 Minnesota United lead.

"It was just a giveaway in our third, a couple of passes and their guy got free at the top of the box and he finished well," Pais said. "I kicked the leg out and just didn't get quite enough. Hoping it was going to curl past the post, but ..."

STLFC finished strong as Schilly went for the win by substituting offensive players for the game's final minutes. The strategy nearly paid off as the home side narrowly missed converting a pair of late Chad Bond corners.

On the first, defender A.J. Cochran connected on a powerful header that he drove downward into the turf and off the crossbar. On the next, the driven corner from Bond banged around the box and appeared to deflect off the arm of a Minnesota United defender. But there was no call.

With STLFC pushing forward in stoppage time, the visitors added to their lead. After gaining control along the left sideline, Danny Cruz dribbled to the end line before cutting a pass back to the penalty spot for teammate Jack Blake to put the finishing touch on the 2-0 Minnesota United win. …

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