Courtesy Mark Guthrel/Saint Louis FC
A late comeback by LAFC saw Sacramento Republic FC’s 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign come to a close Wednesday night, as the Quails fell 3-2 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Following their elimination from the domestic tournament, Sacramento set their sights back to USL play as they prepare to clash with Saint Louis FC for the first time this season.
Prior to Saturday’s match, get to know visiting club Saint Louis FC.
After spending the past two years with Orlando City B, head coach Anthony Pulis joins Saint Louis FC for his first season in 2018. Pulis, who previously played with Orlando from 2012 to 2014, led the second team to the playoffs in 2016—his first year as head coach—and managed the Lions to a 19-23-20 record over 62 games.
Born in Bristol, England, Pulis came up through the Portsmouth system before playing with domestic clubs such as Stoke City, Southampton and Aldershot Town. After earning 46 caps over ten years, the British midfielder joined Orlando City as a player-coach for three years on the USL Pro side. Pulis recorded four goals in his 44 appearances in Orlando. Through 15 matches this season, Saint Louis FC has managed a 5-5-5 start with Pulis at the helm.
Twenty-eight-year-old Kyle Grieg has led the Saint Louis offense this season, converting six of his ten shots on goal. An alum of Benedictine College, the forward scored 43 times in 74 appearances for the Ravens as an undergrad between 2008-2011. Grieg split time between Kansas City Brass, Wilmington Hammerheads and OKC Energy FC over the next five years, before joining the Vancouver Whitecaps organization. His 11 goals in 27 appearances for Whitecaps FC 2 earned the Stevens Point native a spot on the first team in 2017, where he recorded one cap before returning to the USL. Grieg has also notched an assist in his 14 games this season.
Joey Calistri—two-time USL Team of the Week nominee and Player of the Week for Week 13—has been right on Grieg’s tail, scoring four goals and earning an assist in his 15 games played this season. The 24-year-old midfielder developed through the Chicago Fire Academy while playing at Northwestern University, before signing a homegrown contract with the MLS side in 2015. Calistri made his professional debut in 2016 and appeared 14 times, scoring once, before being sent on loan to Tulsa Roughnecks in 2017. In his second USL season, Calistri has proven clutch on the pitch, lifting his team into playoff positioning with a two-goal, one-assist performance on June 9, while also scoring the game-winning goal against LA Galaxy II on April 14.
Since 2015, Saint Louis FC have made their home at Toyota Stadium in Fenton, Missouri. Contained within the five-field World Wide Technology Soccer Park, Toyota Stadium acts as the complex’s main pitch and is also shared amongst the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club and Webster University. The stadium features a turf field and seating for 5,500 fans.
Following a 12th place finish in the Eastern Conference standings last season, Saint Louis FC moved to the Western Conference with the hopes of improving on their 9-14-9 2017 record. They’ve fared better in 2018 despite a -4 goal differential, and have taken advantage of close games to remain competitive within the standings. In games that have been decided by one goal or fewer, Saint Louis has played to a 3-2-5 record (14 points).
After opening the season with a draw and a loss on the road, the team returned home to shut out Colorado Springs Switchbacks 1-0, kickstarting a six-game unbeaten streak. However, following the streak, Saint Louis struggled, losing three of four matches and allowing 13 goals against. The beginning of June brought better results as Saint Louis FC shut out Swope Park Rangers (2-0) and Tulsa Roughnecks (3-0), but league-leading Real Monarchs SLC dealt the Missouri team a 1-0 shutout on June 16, placing them two points back of seventh place.
Republic FC and Saint Louis FC will kick off Saturday’s Team Photo and World Refugee Night, presented by California Endowment Fund, at 8:00 p.m. at Papa Murphy’s Park.
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