There are few things in the beautiful game that are better than the domestic cup competition, especially one with the history and prestige of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Giant killings, lower division clubs getting their shot at the big time and overall one of the truly greatest spectacles in American sport. The third oldest cup competition in the world, yet somehow it’s only just starting to get a sliver of the attention that it deserves.
But enough Lamar Hunt US Open Cup sentiment.
That performance from St. Louis FC was, simply put, nowhere near good enough.
The starting XI was announced, and there was a bit of excitement, as academy graduates Nichi Vlastos and Patrick Schulte, with many of the experienced players around them. And with the match being against the semi pro, USL League 2 side Des Moines Menace, it should’ve been a walk in the park. Should’ve been.
Things started brightly, with Kyle Greig putting STLFC up 1-0 in the 14th minute, flicking a sublime corner from Audi Jepson over the head of Des Moines keeper Jordan Bell. That should’ve signaled a simple 3 or 4 goal performance from St. Louis, but it didn’t. Far from that, actually.
Des Moines would later equalize through a Nicolas Perea penalty after Sam Fink handled the ball in the box. This should’ve been a wake up call for STLFC, but it just wasn’t.
Throughout the match, STLFC just strolled around the pitch, seeming as though it was always going to end in victory, that they didn’t need to play to their full potential. The play was largely slow, lethargic and uninspiring, and in hindsight, the team that really deserved to go through was probably the one that went out.
All things considered, Bell had an outstanding performance for Des Moines, making a number of key saves throughout the match and keeping his team alive, but STLFC should’ve had the killer instinct, to really go in and shut down the hopes of the minnow. But the score remained level, and slowly drifted toward extra time.
Just before the final whistle, Koray Easterling picked up a second yellow, giving St. Louis the man advantage going into extra time. Though throughout the whole of extra time, with the exception of one exceptional save from Jordan Bell, STLFC never really looked like scoring, and with Albert Dikwa getting a second yellow in the 113th minute, things looked even more bleak. Bring on penalties.Jordan Bell against Patrick Schulte. Both were exceptional on the night, but one had to be the unlucky loser.
And that man wouldn’t be Schulte.
18 years old. First appearance for the first team. One of the oldest and most prestigious trophies in American sport. No pressure, kid.
And that’s how he played the shootout. Without pressure. And he was absolutely immense.
Saving three out of four penalties in the shootout, there may never be an easier choice for who gets man of the match again. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. And my word, this kid is good enough.
Patrick Schulte single-handedly dragged St. Louis FC into the next round of the US Open Cup. Yes, the shooters did their part too, but Schulte put in underperforming team on his back and brought them into the next round for a date with Forward Madison FC.
18 year old keeper Patrick Schulte is a 🧱 wall and saved 3 penalties in the shootout to help 10 man @SaintLouisFC escape with a win at 9 man @MenaceSoccer94 in the 2nd round of #USOC2019
STL will host @ForwardMSNFC May 29 at 7PM Central pic.twitter.com/BoPthDD1UJ
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) May 16, 2019
Still though, the overall performance from the team simply was not up to standard. Nichi Vlastos put in a strong performance on his debut, and obviously we know all about Patrick Schulte, but the rest of the players have to accept that this performance was not up to par.
Hopefully this was just a one-off performance, and Anthony Pulis will have that noted, but let’s just say it one more time. What a performance from the kid.
Anthony Kristensen is a sophomore at St. Charles Community College and an alumni of Francis Howell North. He’s just finished his second season playing for the Cougars, and plans on transferring to Mizzou in the fall to pursue a degree in journalism. He writes pieces on social issues ingrained in soccer, as well as covering St. Louis FC and FC Maritsa. You can find his pieces here.
“We experienced some things tonight that I’ve never seen in 18 years of professional football, but we got the job done which is the main thing.” – Anthony Pulis, The Boss.
— Saint Louis FC (@SaintLouisFC) May 16, 2019
#USOC2019 ROUND 2 FINAL: @SaintLouisFC advances 3-1 in a PK shootout over @MenaceSoccer94 after a 1-1 draw. Patrick Schulte of STL becomes just the 10th GK in the Modern Era to save THREE PKs in a shootout. STL will host @ForwardMSNFC in Round 3 on May 29 pic.twitter.com/uMB7KmXGzG
— TheCup.us (@usopencup) May 16, 2019