SPR Scouting Report: St. Louis FC

We scout St. Louis FC ahead of their first of four match-ups with the Swope Park Rangers in 2016.

Swope Park Rangers will next take on St. Louis FC. I can remember being at the U.S. Open Cup game last year against St. Louis, and thinking how awesome it would be to have this game every year. It felt like a rivalry, and the most impressive part to me was how many supporters they brought for a USL side.

Well now we’ll see how this rivalry will shape up. I know that there are quite a few fans from “The Zoo” going to the game in St. Louis (“The Zoo” are known as the supporters group for SPR). I also saw that St. Louis had a poll on the website of which game fans were most excited for, and the Rangers had received 52% of the votes from the four choices that were available. Now let’s talk about what we can expect from the team from east Missouri.

Offensively

July 11, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes defender Brandon Barklage (26) kicks the ball against the D.C. United during the first half at Buck Shaw Stadium. D.C. United defeated San Jose Earthquakes 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

July 11, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes defender Brandon Barklage (26) kicks the ball against the D.C. United during the first half at Buck Shaw Stadium. D.C. United defeated San Jose Earthquakes 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis FC will come out in what resembles a 4-4-2 with Mike Ambersley and El Salvadorian International, Irvin Herrera up top. Herrera likes to play on the back shoulder of the center backs, looking for an opportunity to sneak in behind the defense. On the right is former San Jose Earthquake Brandon Barklage. Barklage is very good on the ball, but came off early due to injury in their last game against Sacramento Republic. On the left is Schillo Tshuma who is a great combination of skill and speed, and could possibly cause Jimmy Mulligan a lot of problems. St. Louis have only scored six goal all season, three of which came in one game.

Center Midfielders

I thought the center mids for St. Louis were very good. Chad Bond spent last season with the Tulsa Roughnecks and tallied eight assists in his 22 games. Bond is the center mid that will generally venture forward more, while James Musa tends to sit back more. I was pretty impressed with the Fulham product, who was good on the ball and distributed well. Musa also possess a long throw that makes any throw in near the 18 basically a corner.

Defensively

Early on this season St. Louis have struggled with not only putting the ball in the opponents net, but keeping it out of their own as well. In their six games they average giving up a goal a game. St. Louis’s center back pairing Sam Fink, and AJ Cochran are both very young at 22 and 24. I was really impressed with Cochran’s distribution on the ground against Sacramento, often finding the feet of the center mids deep in the attacking third.

If the Rangers take away Cochran’s left they’ll take away most of the distribution out of the back. On the left is Parker Maher who is a very stay home left back, and his distribution leaves a lot to be desired. At right back is Richard Dixon who will venture forward at times, which could leave a ton of space for a speedy winger like Tyler Pasher to get in behind.

Summary

This seems like a must win for both teams who sit mid table in the Western Conference. SPR have stumbled as of late, and I think would love to get three points on the road against a rival. I don’t think the Rangers will have trouble scoring, I think they’ll have more trouble keeping St. Louis off the score sheet. Be sure to tune in Saturday at 7:30 to catch the game for free on the USL’s YouTube channel.