Supporters groups, Football Clubs meet in second leg of Kings Cu - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Supporters groups, Football Clubs meet in second leg of Kings Cup clash in St. Louis

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The Saint Louligans and Louisville fans who made the trip pose for a picture at their joint tailgate Sunday May 24, 2015. The Saint Louligans and Louisville fans who made the trip pose for a picture at their joint tailgate Sunday May 24, 2015.

SAINT LOUIS (WDRB) -- While Saint Louis FC and Louisville City battled to a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw Sunday night in the second leg of the Kings Cup, a different battle was being waged in the stands.

A raucous group of supporters drummed and chanted and danced and sang constantly, showing off their passion for their team and their town. They are the Saint Louligans, the supporters group for Saint Louis soccer in all of its forms. Much like the Louisville Coopers, they played a part in getting and growing Saint Louis FC.

A crowd of about 4,000 turned out to cheer on the fighting chupacabras -- as the Louligans dubbed them in song -- and among them were about 50 purple-clad Louisville supporters beating their drums and singing for their own team. They chartered a bus and made the four-hour journey west to see their team play and go head-to-head with the Saint Louligans.

The supporters groups met in the parking lot before the game for a joint tailgate and individual marches into the stadium. 

"We love having them here," Saint Louligan Pat Ryan shouted over the roar of the supporters section. "We want them to be over there making noise. We want them to be good, so they make us better."

The second leg of the Kings Cup was a three-hour spectacle delayed by lightning and rain for almost an hour – that, ultimately, ended in a draw both teams might be relieved to come away with.

Saint Louis took the lead in the 21st minute when Louisville goalie Scott Goodwin misjudged a pass across the goal and the speed with which Jeremie Lynch caught up to it. Louisville equalized shortly afterward when a failed clearance gave Kadeem Dacres and Matt Fondy a two-on-one with Saint Louis keeper Alec Kann, which Fondy finished.

As the goals were scored, green and blue smoke went up from one corner of the park and purple smoke billowed from the other corner. The pair of supporters groups celebrated their teams and their passion for the game.

“It's a weird type of passion,” Ryan said. “It's that hockey type of passion.”

The second half saw Mike Ambersley put the home team up 2-1 with a strike from 20 yards out before lightning brought the match to a halt. It took a few minutes for soccer park security to get their message across to the still-singing Saint Louligans – that they needed to clear out of the metal bleachers.

It was not completely clear whether the game would resume and most fans begrudgingly trudged to their vehicles and filed out of the park – including Louisville's band of travelers.

But those who remained and braved torrential rains were treated to a thrilling conclusion. After an hour-long rain delay, the teams took the field and Louisville went on the offensive, dominating possession and creating chances left and right.

In a scramble in front of the Saint Louis goal, Fondy netted another equalizer to tie the game 2-2. A few minutes later, Goodwin took down Ambersley in the box giving Saint Louis a penalty kick, which Bryan Gaul put away for a 3-2 lead.

Before the remaining Saint Louligans' smoke had even cleared, Nate Polak finished another equalizer on a set piece to make it 3-3 before the final whistle blew.

Most of the remaining Louligans packed back into their section, singing in the rain, while families kept to the tents and kids moved into the front rows to get a better view of the action. The fans know a draw isn't the ideal outcome, but for some it's not just about getting the win.

“We want to be successful but we don't mind if we're not successful,” Ryan said. “We want to win; we just also want people to see how much fun this is and take note.”

Saint Louis has a storied soccer tradition and every U.S. National Team in World Cup history has had at least one person from Saint Louis on the roster.

In the 1950 World Cup, when the U.S. beat England 1-0, in what's been dubbed the Miracle on Grass, four members of the team grew up in Saint Louis' The Hill neighborhood – three of them lived within a block of each other.

So while Saint Louis FC might be new in town, soccer is not. The Saint Louligans say their goal is to make as much noise as possible and to bring more and more people to share in their passion.

Their efforts were not lost on Louisville's fans who were at the game. They spent the pre-game tailgate sharing beers, stories and best practices.

The rivalry between the teams was born from the timing and geography of USL's expansion, with both teams in the Eastern Conference and their inaugural season.

The Saint Louligans and the Coopers dubbed it the Kings' Cup, for the French kings who gave each city its name. The Kings Cup will be awarded to the team with the most points in a four game series over the season.

Louisville City took the first leg 2-0 on both teams' opening day at Louisville Slugger Field March 28. After Sunday's 3-3 draw, the cup returns to Louisville Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for the third leg. The last leg will be back in Saint Louis in September.

The Saint Louligans and Coopers have also planned a soccer game between the supporters groups, which will be played at Cox Park at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

If you want to watch the full replay of Sunday's game, you can find it here.

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