Saturday’s trip to Kansas City wasn’t as tough for Energy FC as predicted here last week, because it didn’t happen. Due to reasons that are not clear, the match against Swope Park was postponed to a later date. While that will likely cause some fixture congestion later in the season, it’s also a welcomed break from what has been a busy and difficult start to 2018.
In Matchweek 6, St. Louis visits Taft Stadium for the first time since the 2016 season, having spent 2017 in the USL’s Eastern Conference. If history repeats itself, we’ll see a draw at the end of the 90 minutes. Five of the six league matches between the clubs have ended with each side coming away with a point. And counting friendlies, the teams have drawn seven matches in eight meetings. The only time a team left the pitch with all three points was during their first-ever matchup in 2015, which STLFC won 2-1.
While this shapes up to be a tight contest on Saturday night, neither club will be looking for a draw as Energy FC badly need a win, and Saint Louis FC look to continue their solid start under new manager Anthony Pulis. St. Louis finds itself in tenth position in the Western Conference, having won two, drawn two, and lost just one match. Energy FC need all three points to right the ship after a four-match losing streak – the longest such streak since the club’s inaugural season.
While OKC had the weekend off, STL picked up a big win at home to LA Galaxy II. A Joey Calistri header just after the second half restart proved to be the difference in a match Saint Louis could have easily won by three or four goals. Calistri’s performance earned the former Tulsa Roughnecks man a place on this week’s USL Team of the Week.
While their home form has been good (2-0-1), St. Louis have only managed to pick up one point in two matches away from Toyota Stadium. Another statistic that isn’t overly alarming is STL’s offensive output in 2018. So far, they’ve only managed 48 shots (19 in their last match) with just 16 on target.
The difference maker for STL in 2018 has been their ability to prevent goals. The return of Sam Fink has helped stabilize a backline that has only allowed four goals this season – keeping two clean sheets in the process. Another familiar face likely lining up on the wrong side of the pitch on Saturday will be Kyle Greig. Grieg, an Energy FC fan favorite from 2014-2015, scored 16 goals in 51 appearances during his time in OKC, and currently leads STL with 2 goals on the season.
Pulis has tinkered with the formation several times in five matches, but STL most recently lined up against Los Dos in a 3-4-2-1: Fenalson; Kavita, Fink, Reynolds; Barden, Hilton, Rocha, Culbertson; Martz, Calistri; Volesky (Dikwa 88’). That formation with two holding midfielders is becoming increasingly popular in today’s game with OKC having faced it three times already this season – against Tulsa, Phoenix and Portland.
The match this Saturday kicks off at Taft Stadium at 7:00pm, and tickets are still available at energyfc.com/april21 or (405)235-KICK. For those who cannot make it out to Taft Stadium, the match will also be the first time Energy FC are available to watch on the new ESPN+ platform.