FENTON, Mo. – Saint Louis FC rallied for a 2-1 victory against Indy Eleven in a hard-fought season-opener at Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis on Saturday afternoon. Here are three takeaways:
1. DOING THE DIRTY WORK: Saint Louis’ goals were both well-taken, especially a powerful hit by birthday boy Phanuel Kavita to level the score after Indy had gone ahead. The buildup to both? Not quite as pretty, but that’s OK too as STLFC’s competitiveness to keep plays alive in the Indy penalty area – and a couple of nice bounces that came from those efforts – ended up paying off in a big way. The willingness to do the dirty work in the opposing penalty area can make its own luck at times, and that was how Saint Louis created the chances to pick up all three points on Saturday.
2. PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER: With the talented attacking options Indy Eleven has at its disposal, there are going to be better days than this as the season goes on. That said, it didn’t quite feel like its trio of newcomers Dane Kelly, Ilija Ilic and Thomas Enevoldsen had quite found the right chemistry yet. Kelly came closest to scoring, hitting the post early in the second half, but his saved penalty kick was the only official shot on goal the trio combined for in the game, and Envoldsen had the only key pass of the game. It’s just one game, but there’s work to be done here to make the puzzle fit for Head Coach Martin Rennie.
3. THREE IN A ROW: A home opener isn’t always an indicator of how a season is going to play out, but Saint Louis FC has now won its home opener in three consecutive seasons and that bodes well for another strong season at Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis. The club earned its first trip to the USL Cup Playoffs a season ago on the back of a 10-2-5 home record, which saw it tie for the fewest home defeats in the regular season with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. If Saturday is any indication, it’s going to be difficult for opponents to take three points from Head Coach Anthony Pulis’ side on their home turf.