(Photo Credit: Mick Lite Arch City Sports)
ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis FC returned home to the friendly confines of World Wide Technology Soccer Park Saturday night against the Tulsa Roughnecks, but only came away with one point after a 0-0 draw.
Saint Louis came out strong in the first half, applying pressure early. Dale Schilly’s team generated a couple of quick quality chances after sneaking past the back line, but couldn’t capitalize on the advantages.
With some new players in only their fourth game coach Schilly said the players are still learning how to work together, but the team can’t afford to miss the opportunities when given to them.
“You’re only going to create so many chances in a game and we created two good ones early and we need to score. If you capitalize on those chances the game changes completely. Tulsa does a really good job of defending in front of the goal and that’s difficult to break down,” Schilly said.
The veteran presence of Brandon Barklage and Patrick Doody continues to help Saint Louis move the ball well across fields and generate opportunities through the middle of the pitch. Each player has MLS experience under their belt, with Doody playing a stint with Saint Louis’ MLS affiliate the Chicago Fire last season.
As the season progresses look for this team to work better together. They’re already showing more signs of life up front and through the middle and one of the teams leading strikers from a season ago, Jermie Lynch, didn’t even play.
Tulsa played a strong game defensively and kept most of the plays in front of them shifting St. Louis to the wings of the field rather than giving up shots through the middle, which seem to frustrate the Saint Louis players.
In addition to this game being the teams home opener, it was also the first game since the December floods that destroyed most of World Wide Technology Park. The team announced prior to the game that it had sold out with 5,531 fans in attendance.
Saint Louis goalkeeper Mark Pais credited the fan base and specifically the St. Louligan supporters after the game for their continued support.
“Hats off to the Louligans. It was twice as big and rowdy as last year and I didn’t know that was possible,” Pais said.
Pais had a couple of quality saves in the second half after Tulsa broke through the back line, but Saint Louis maintained control for the majority of the game.
Mike Ambersley had two wonderful opportunities to put shots on frame in the second half, but both times the ball skied over the net. He said afterward he probably had more time to finish.
“The first touch was down to the ground and the ball bounced a little high. I was a little too impatient, but you get one or two of the chances in the game and you have to finish them. We had three our four chances and the game could have been over right there,” Ambersley said.
Though they were unable to come away with a victory Ambersley is confident in where the team is headed.
“I think the team has a lot of confidence and we’re in a good place moving forward, it’ll come together,” Ambersley said.
Saint Louis finished its 2015 campaign 8-11-9 and 9th of 12 teams in the Eastern Conference. The team looks to improve upon that record this season and solidify themselves in a playoff spot.
Saint Louis and Tulsa will meet three more times this season. Saint Louis’ next match is against Sacramento on the road, next Saturday, April 23.
GAME NOTES: Saint Louis rookie forward Vince Cicciarelli leads the team with three goals.
In their meeting last season Saint Louis blanked the Roughnecks 2-0, for the franchises first ever win.