FENTON, Mo., September 2 – Kyle Grieg scored two goals as the Saint Louis FC ended a five-game winless streak with a 3-2 USL Championship win over Hartford Athletic Sunday night to keep their United Soccer League Eastern Conference playoff hopes alive.
Greig scored a pair of goals, including the eventual game-winner, on just three shots to help Saint Louis (7-9-8) earn its first win since July 27. Saint Louis is two points shy of the tenth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Saint Louis took a 1-0 lead when Kadeem Dacres blasted a right-footed shot from 25 yards out into the top-right corner to give his side the lead with 16 minutes gone in the game. Dacres tried his luck from a similar distance in the 20th minute, but Hartford goalie Cody Cropper made a strong diving save to keep his side in the game.
Cropper, who is on loan from the MLS New England Revolution played well early to keep the Athletic (5-18-4) in the game. Cropper kept his side from going behind inside of six minutes, tracking Russell Cicerone’s low shot through traffic and holding onto the ball as a pair of Saint Louis players prepared to pounce on a rebound. Cicerone forced Cropper into another diving save ten minutes later.
Hartford tied the game at 1-1 with 15 minutes left in the first half. Alex Dixon took on a pair of Saint Louis defenders and Sean Reynolds tackled the ball off the forward but put it past goalkeeper Tomas Gomez into his own net.
Grieg put Saint Louis ahead, 2-1, with seven minutes remaining in the first half, firing a low shot through Cropper from the right side of the box after Tyler Blackwood had won possession in the attacking third.
In the second half, Greig grabbed his second goal of the game to extend the lead to two, 3-1, in the 65th minute when his initial header was blocked but Matt Bahner recovered the loose ball and slid a pass across to Grieg to produce a sliding finish from close range.
Hartford found a response two minutes later to cut the deficit in half as Sebastian Dalgaard volleyed Alex Dixon’s right-wing cross into the ground, but the ball looped up off the underside of the crossbar and in behind a sprawling Gomez to set up a frenzied finish.
Gomez kept Hartford’s Jose Angulo from tying the game moments later with a strong low save to his left after the forward had found some space on the right side of the penalty area.
Cropper made another stop on Saint Louis’ Masta Kacher at his near post as Saint Louis pushed for another insurance goal, but the hosts wouldn’t need it as they picked up a massive three points.
Hartford returns home to host Louden Athletic (6-12-6) at Dillon Stadium on Saturday at 4 p.m.