In Hartford Athletic’s first-ever playoff match, a 90th-minute Saint Louis goal proved to be a dagger in what was a sensational match. The Boys in Green came up just short falling one-nil to Saint Louis FC in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Saint Louis goalkeeper Kyle Morton stood on his head in the first half. Time after time Hartford was able to find spaces in the Saint Louis backline. Gabi Torres had two chances to put Athletic in front. If not for the keeper’s fingertips, Hartford would have had the lead.
Hartford was the more dominant team in the first half and had the majority of the chances, Raidi Jaïdi stuck with the same group in the second half. However, in the 68th minute, Hartford was forced to make a change. After sprinting for a ball in behind, Hartford forward Ever Guzmán pulled up holding his hamstring. The star striker was replaced by Marcus Naglestad and his tireless running and intelligence were missed for the remainder of the game.
Hartford continued to keep possession and make things happen in the Saint Louis defensive third. Danny Barrera came close, Alex Dixon almost stuck one in the top corner, and Markus Naglestad forced another save out of Kyle Morton.
After many fouls, referee calls, and penalty claims, Hartford was punished in the dying embers of the game. In added time Joaquin Rivas broke through the backline and the Hartford defense was split open. The striker buried a near-post shot past a helpless Parfait Mandanda to give Saint Louis a late lead.
Hartford hoofed up balls and tried to get the last opportunity, but it wasn’t to be. Athletic deserved more and the fans felt it too, they were clapped off the pitch by a 40% capacity Dillon Stadium all the way into the locker rooms.
Shots (On-Target): Hartford Athletic 15 (5) - 10 (4) Saint Louis
Corners: Hartford Athletic 5-2 Saint Louis
Fouls: Hartford Athletic 17-12 Saint Louis
Offsides: Hartford Athletic 2-0 Saint Louis
Possession: Hartford Athletic 43.7%-56.3% Saint Louis
Passing Accuracy: Hartford Athletic 66.7%-76.6% Saint Louis
Saves: Hartford Athletic 3-5 Saint Louis
90+2' - Joaquin Rivas 0-1
16' - Matheus Silva (Yellow)
45+1' - Sam Strong (Yellow)
61' - Danny Barrera (Yellow)
73' - Kyle Greig (Yellow)
89' - Wal Fall (Yellow)
90+3' - Kevin Politz (Yellow)
HARTFORD ATHLETIC STARTING LINEUP:
35 (GK) Parfait Mandanda; 24 (D) Sam Strong, 4 (D) Kevin Politz, 3 (D) Matheus Silva; 25 (MF) Idan Cohen (Conor McGlynn, 81'), 10 (MF) Danny Barrera, 80 (MF) Justin Haak, 23 (MF) Aiden Mesias (Arthur Rogers, 57'), 16 (MF) Gabriel Torres; 99 (F) Ever Guzmán (Markus Naglestad, 69'), 11 (F) Alex Dixon
SAINT LOUIS FC STARTING LINEUP:
1 (GK) Kyle Morton; 2 (D) Paris Gee, 21 (D) Tobi Adewole, 4 (D) Sam Fink, 3 (D) Phan Kauita, 9 (D) Russ Cicerone; 8 (MF) Guy Abend (Joaquin Rivas, 69'), 7 (MF) Todd Whorton, 5 (MF) Wal Fall; 22 (F) Kyle Greis, 14 (F) Tyler Blackwood (Mo Samb, 81')