NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Saint Louis FC bagged its second consecutive victory to start the 2019 USL Championship season with a 1-0 win on the road against Nashville SC before 6,070 fans at First Tennessee Park. Here are three takeaways from the contest:
FINDING THE RANGE: Going on the road against a strong host, Saint Louis FC expected it would need to be able to create chances from set pieces if it was going to have a chance at getting a result. While those weren’t the only source of opportunities the visitors carved out for themselves, especially in a brightly-played first half, the difference in the game arrived thanks to Joaquin Rivas’ corner kick, which was met perfectly by Caleb Calvert for his first goal in STLFC’s colors with six minutes to go. In what was a tight game throughout, the visitors grabbed all three points thanks to perfect set piece execution.
HOLDING DOWN THE EDGE: The numbers might not tell the whole story, but two of the key players on the night for Saint Louis were fullbacks Bradley Kamdem Fewo and Paris Gee, who helped keep Nashville’s Kharlton Belmar in relative check when matched up with the crafty forward at differing times in the match. Both players were aggressive, pushing into attack when the chance arose while each recording one key pass, but more importantly they held the dangerous Belmar without a key pass on the night, cutting off some of the supply to NSC’s attack.
NSC STARS STYMIED: Both Cameron Lancaster and Daniel Rios got off the mark for Nashville in their opening game for the club last Saturday, but neither seemed to find their rhythm against Saint Louis’ smothering defense. Over the first half, neither player recorded a touch in the STLFC penalty area, and when Lancaster’s best chance to find the net arrived in the second half off a well-worked free kick the English forward didn’t make clean contact as his shot spun wide. There’s a lot of credit to be given to Saint Louis’ defense here, especially for its strong second half which saw it absorb a lot of pressure, but at the same time STLFC goalkeeper Jake Fenlason was only seriously tested once by Matt LaGrassa’s flicked header in the 81st minute, which for a team with Nashville's talent shouldn’t have been the case.