Photo courtesy Mark Guthrel / Saint Louis FC
FENTON, Mo. – Saint Louis FC claimed a 1-0 victory against the Eastern Conference leader Charleston Battery on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 5,243 at Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis, breaking a five-game winless streak. Saint Louis’ Mats Bjurman had a pair of early chances, but the Battery had the first serious threat on goal in the 14th minute when Heviel Cordoves’ low shot to the right corner was just turned wide by STLFC goalkeeper Adam Grinwis. Charleston had to scramble away the rebound as A.J. Cochran’s header from a corner was awkwardly saved by Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, while both teams had chances late in the half as Saint Louis’ Daniel Jackson and Cordoves both produced saves from their opposing goalkeepers. Saint Louis believed it had taken the lead five minutes into the second half when Octavio Guzman curled home a free kick, only for a foul in the wall to rule out the finish, while Charleston’s Justin Portillo forced another save by Grinwis at his right post on the hour-mark. Guzman’s second chance from a free kick came through for the hosts, however, as he picked out a shot just inside the left post that Cooper couldn’t quite keep out. Charleston forced chances late, and finished the game with 12 corner kicks, but the Battery were unable to find an equalizer as they were held scoreless for the first time in a game this season.
72’ – STL – Octavio Guzman
Three Things That Matter:
1. Saint Louis FC had won just once in its last 11 games before Saturday night’s contest, but with a win against the Eastern Conference leader might have given itself a chance to get back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. After last Saturday’s drubbing on the road against the Charlotte Independence, the energy on the field was much more positive, and new addition Daniel Jackson appeared to fit right into the manner the side wanted to play. Jackson’s ability to stretch the field could be important for Saint Louis moving forward, giving a different look to the attack as STLFC looks to build on a crucial win.
2. The biggest talking point of the match was set to be Octavio Guzman’s 50th-minute free kick, which saw the midfielder pick out the left corner of the net, but an infraction that saw the Saint Louis player at the end of the wall collapse, taking a Battery man with him to create the opening for the shot ruled the finish out. That was put to bed with 18 minutes to go. Given another chance from a slightly wider position, Guzman found another precise finish that tucked just inside the left post to give the hosts a lead at the second attempt.
3. Charleston’s first loss since May was a tough one, but the side still holds a four-point cushion at the top of the conference after the remainder of the weekend’s results in the Eastern Conference. The Battery will want to get back in the win column quickly, and certainly could have taken something from Saturday’s game if not for a strong performance by Saint Louis goalkeeper Adam Grinwis, who had three important saves and also took control on the Battery’s crosses well. After being held scoreless for the first time this season, next week’s visit to Tampa Bay is a big chance to rebound against one of the teams in the close, chasing pack.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Octavio Guzman, Saint Louis FC – Guzman scored the only goal of the game, and also set the tempo for Saint Louis’ performance with two key passes and 32-of-39 passes completed.
Saint Louis FC vs. Louisville City FC – July 22, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis
Charleston Battery at Tampa Bay Rowdies – July 22, 7:30 p.m. ET, Al Lang Stadium