St. Louis FC: Year One in the Books


When looking at the history of soccer in the United States, it’s hard to ignore the importance of St. Louis. The city was long the Midwestern mecca for the sport, and the early American World Cup squads are chock full of talent that either came from the city or played for its teams. The city has had multiple teams in the modern era, but all have failed. The latest attempt at a club in St. Louis, however, seems to be different.

Expansion side St. Louis FC recently finished up its first year of existence in the United Soccer League, the third division of the American soccer pyramid. The team, based in Fenton and coached by Dale Schilly, did not enjoy much on-field success. STL FC went 8-11-9, good enough for only 9th in the USL Conference, eight points out of a playoff spot. A large part of the team’s (limited) success is owed to loanee defender Patrick Doody. Loaned to St. Louis FC by MLS side Chicago Fire, the Naperville, Illinois native played 20 games for St. Louis FC. Doody tallied four assists in his time with the team, including a crucial equalizing goal against the Charleston Battery in the 83rd minute, along with current MLS experience.

Doody, however, is not the only player with such experience. Multiple players on the team appeared more than five times for an MLS side. Among these is top goalscorer Bryan Gaul. The forward, who scored four times this season, spent three seasons with the LA Galaxy.

Having your top scorer only score four times in a season is bound to bring trouble, and St. Louis FC certainly felt it. The team had not one, but two month-long winless streaks, and were frequently on the wrong end of a shutout. That’s not to say the season was without success; in the US Open Cup, the club advanced to the fourth round, defeating current NASL (and future MLS) side Minnesota United FC in penalty kicks to set up a meeting with Sporting Kansas City in the tournament.

Unfortunately for St. Louis FC, they could not vanquish a superior foe. Despite holding SKC scoreless for 69 minutes, a Graham Zusi header sealed the win for SKC, sending STLFC packing. Jermie Lynch had a chance off of a Patrick Doody header late, but couldn’t convert. STLFC head coach Dale Schilly later stated that “We weren’t good enough in… three or four key moments.”

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Off the field, it’s a different story. The 6,000-seat World Wide Technology Soccer Park is frequently packed for matches, and the team’s supporters’ group, the St. Louligans, is renowned for their passion. The group was created five years ago to support the now-defunct AC Saint Louis, and stuck around, reactivating when STLFC was announced. The club has a good relationship with its fanbase; General Manager Jeremy Alumbaugh frequents events and has held Q&A sessions on a regular basis.

It is safe to say that the future of soccer in St. Louis is safe with St. Louis FC. But with rumblings that the proposed riverfront stadium will be built to house an MLS tenant, top-tier soccer could soon return to its American birthplace. Whether or not that tenant is St. Louis FC remains to be seen.

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