Photo courtesy Mark Guthrel / Saint Louis FC
FENTON, Mo. – A sellout crowd of 5,513 was on hand at Saint Louis FC eked out a 1-0 victory against the Portland Timbers 2 on Saturday night at World Wide Technology Soccer Park. Both teams played brightly to open the contest, and Irvin Herrera had a chance to give Saint Louis the lead as he curled a shot just high and wide of the left corner of the net in the 16th minute. Portland’s Villyan Bijev then forced a diving stop from STLFC goalkeeper Ryan Thompson 11 minutes later, as Kharlton Belmar’s rebound effort hit the post and went behind. Saint Louis took the lead from the penalty spot just before the hour-mark as Herrera converted after a handball in the penalty area with a powerful shot to the right corner, and almost added a second as Justin Luthy made a big save on a one-on-one 15 minutes later. Neco Brett flashed a shot just over the crossbar inside the final five minutes as T2 pushed strongly late for an equalizer, but Saint Louis held on for a vital victory.
58’ – STL – Irvin Herrera (PK)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Two teams battling for playoff position made for a playoff-type atmosphere on the field on Saturday night as the game saw both great passages of attacking play, and also some strong physicality between the two teams. After both missing out on the playoffs a season ago, it was clear on Saturday that both Saint Louis and Portland don’t want to go a second year without postseason competition, but STLFC edged the contest, and as such got a big leg up on their mid-table rival.
2. Neco Brett has had a strong rookie season already for the Portland Timbers 2, and while he didn’t quite find the scoresheet on Saturday night, his speed and ability was again on display. If T2 was going to find an equalizer, it was almost certain Brett would have been involved, with his curling shot in the final five minutes coming so close to grabbing the chance of a point for the visitors after a tough, tense contest.
3. With its win, Saint Louis remains undefeated on its home turf this season, and is now on a nine-game undefeated streak in the league at World Wide Technology Soccer Park since the end of the 2015 season. With four of the team’s games in July on home turf after playing nine of its first 15 games this season on the road, the opportunity is there to push strongly up the Western Conference, with the outstanding atmosphere provided by its fans – led by the St. Louligans – almost certain to push them on.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Ryan Thompson, Saint Louis FC – Making his second start after returning to the team from international duty with Jamaica, Thompson made a number of key saves to preserve a shutout, and earn his side a big three points in the playoff race.
Saint Louis FC at Swope Park Rangers – July 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, Children’s Mercy Victory Field
Portland Timbers 2 vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – July 7, 10 p.m. ET, Merlo Field