By TRAVIS CLARK
Soccer was supposed to make a triumphant return to St. Louis t his year. Steve Ralston had been brought in, and exciting crowds early in the season gave more reason for excitement.
Instead, it's been a rather calamitous two months for A.C. St. Louis, who slumped to another defeat at home, this time a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of fellow expansion team FC Tampa Bay Rowdies. The result sees the club drop to a 1-6-1 record and the lowest point total in the league.
St. Louis found themselves down a goal and a man at halftime, conceding a goal in the 37th minute, and having defender Tim Velten sent off for a foul outside the penalty area. From there, A.C. St. Louis couldn't keep up with the Rowdies, who added two more in the second half from Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe and Long Tan. Steve Ralston's debut in the 57th minute was the only good news of the evening for the home side.
Here's a look at the rest of the USSF D-2 action from this weekend:
BALTIMORE BEATS TIMBERS AGAIN
A few weeks ago, USSF D-2 play was a cakewalk for the Portland Timbers. One of the league's most talented sides, a hot start to 2010 led to an abundance of enthusiasm for the soon-to-be MLS team. However, after a second loss to Crystal Palace Baltimore in ten days, this time a 2-1 defeat in Maryland, Portland has been taken down a notch. Baltimore, winners for the third time in four matches, earned a win in front of a home crowd for the first time this season, and continue to dig themselves out of a poor start to the season.
MIAMI SQUEAKS PAST NSC MINNESOTA
It only took six tries, but Miami FC finally managed three points in a USSF D-2 league match. A Paulo Araujo, Jr. goal in the 71st minute was all the Blues needed in a 1-0 win over Minnesota Saturday evening. Christian Gomez engineered the game's lone goal, and Caleb Patterson-Sewell was on form once again as Miami finally broke through for a victory.
VANCOUVER SNAPS SCORELESS STREAK, STYMIES ROCHESTER 2-0
For the Vancouver Whitecaps, the defense hadn't been the problem. Through six games, they'd only conceded two goals. However, the lack of goal-scoring — just four games in that same stretch — meant wins were hard to come by. Saturday night, the Whitecaps were able to take a step to correct that, scoring twice and posting a clean sheet en route to a 2-0 win over the Rochester Rhinos. Goals from Cornelius Stewart and Greg Janicki made up the difference as Vancouver vaulted to top spot in the NASL Conference, two points behind idle leaders Austin Aztex.