ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis FC will pass the halfway point of its inaugural 2015 season this week, as the team jets to North Carolina for its first two-game road trip of the season.
STL FC will travel to the Atlantic coast to face Wilmington Hammerheads FC on Wednesday before heading east to play Charlotte Independence on Saturday.
Through its first 13 games in USL competition, Saint Louis FC holds a record of 3-5-5 (14 pts.).
The team has earned some hard-fought points on the road, going 2-1-2 over its first five away matches. However, STL FC has had some mixed results at World Wide Technology Soccer Park, going 1-4-3 at home.
“We can’t take our home field advantage for granted,” Forward Mike Ambersley said. “When we’re at home, we seem to think that the fans will just carry us through and we’ve conceded some early goals as a result. Technically, we have the players to get these results. Now, it’s just a matter of not trying to do too much when things get tough.”
Despite going winless in the month of June, STL FC is just five points out of a playoff spot with games in hand over all but two of the clubs it trails in the USL Eastern Conference standings.
Saint Louis will have plenty of opportunities to make up lost ground, as all but one of the team’s 15 remaining games are against Eastern Conference opponents.
A key for STL FC in the second half of the season will be the health of the squad. Brandon Barklage, James Musa, Richard Dixon, and Jamiel Hardware are among the players who have missed significant time due to injuries.
This has forced Head Coach Dale Schilly into lineup changes on a near game-to-game basis. So far, 26 different players have made starts for STL FC and the same starting lineup has yet to be used in consecutive games.
“We’re looking forward to getting everyone healthy and having everyone available to play,” Schilly said. “We want to be able to put our best team on the field every game.”
Navigating through its first season in the USL, Saint Louis FC will now have the advantage of seeing teams for a second time around. That starts with Wilmington on Wednesday night, as STL FC defeated the Hammerheads 1-0 in St. Louis on May 9.
“It’s going to be beneficial to play these teams for a second time,” Schilly added. “Hopefully we can make some adjustments from the first half and get the results we need.”
Aside from USL competition, Saint Louis’ impressive showing in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has been a major highlight of the season so far. STL FC reached the fourth round of the tournament with thrilling victories at home over Des Moines Menace and Minnesota United FC in May.
The club was eventually knocked out by a 1-0 defeat at Sporting Kansas City on June 16, but was spurred on by tremendous traveling support from the St. Louligans and other St. Louis fans that made the trip down I-70. After the match, players on both sides acknowledged the visiting supporters.
Attendance has also been a positive, as STL FC ranks fourth in the USL in average attendance (4,577) behind only Oklahoma City, Louisville, and Sacramento. The club has recorded a pair of sellouts against Pittsburgh on April 11 and New York on June 27.
“It’s been incredible,” Defender Sam Fink said of the fan support. “Our fans are different from other fans because of their knowledge of the game. When we put a good product on the field, they recognize it and applaud it. It's been really special to see it grow.”