Saint Louis FC Defensive Issues Continue In USOC Loss

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FENTON, MO (June 1, 2016) – In a rematch of last year’s third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Minnesota United FC got revenge on Saint Louis FC with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night. Saint Louis FC defensive issues and poor finishing again hurt Saint Louis FC, who are now winless in last three home matches. This was the club’s seventh game in 21 days.

Saint Louis FC Defensive Issues Continue In USOC Loss

Minnesota opened the scoring in the 69th minute when Kevin Venegas scored in a quick counter off a midfield turnover by left back Parker Maher. Maher was pressured and didn’t make a decision, causing him to get stripped. The ball was turned over in a bad spot. Two quick touches and Venegas was one-on-one with goalkeeper Mark Pais.

The second goal was a bit more forgivable, coming in stoppage time. Saint Louis FC was searching for the game tying goal and had players pushed up the field ready to attack. Their defense got spread out at the back, causing center back Sam Fink to be matched up with Danny Cruz on the wing. Cruz blew by Fink with his speed. Cruz fired a cross to the top of the box, but no defender tracked back to cover Jack Blake, who scored easily.

Prior to this Open Cup match, Saint Louis FC had played to two 1-1 draws. Against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, Brett Levis scored on a second ball from a corner kick. Saint Louis FC was able to force the ball out of the box but could not clear their line. Levis got the ball 15 yards from the top of the box, made a move around a defender and dribbled into the middle of several Saint Louis FC players.

At any level, this is usually a low percentage play. Levis didn’t have any teammates wide open and he was going to have to get around several opponents by himself. This play seemed fairly innocuous. But no Saint Louis FC defender closed him down and Levis picked the perfect angle to shoot with his left foot to get through the traffic in front of the net past Pais.

Against RGVFC Toros, a turn over in midfield resulted in a goal for Jose Escalante in the second half. A poor pass out of the back, and instantly the RGVFC attackers were off to the races with numbers on Saint Louis FC’s back line. They were picked apart and RGVFC took the lead.

These defensive mistakes unfortunately mirror defensive issues going back to last season. Individual mental mistakes are leading to turnovers. Lack of focus is leading to these quick counters out of the midfield that the back line is ill-prepared to defend. The midfield, not just the holding mids, are pushing too far up the field too early. This limits the passing options out of the back and doesn’t provide defensive support for when those turnovers and counters occur.

It isn’t one problem causing this habitual failure, unlike last year where a healthy Brandon Barklage probably puts out some of those fires before they spread. It’s a whole bunch of things. Head coach Dale Schilly needs to address them in training for Saint Louis FC to start getting clean sheets and winning games at home.

The team needs to stay focuses. Critical errors must be eliminated. The midfield and defense need to start playing as one collective out of the back, not two separate entities.


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