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It wasn’t the start anyone on the team was looking for, but maybe most importantly, it was a start.

St. Louis FC made its debut on Saturday, marking the return of a professional outdoor soccer team to St. Louis for the first time since 2010. Their opening act was a 2-0 loss to Louisville City in Louisville, Ky., so there’s nowhere to go but up.

“At the end of the day, you have to have a first game, have to have a first loss,” coach Dale Schilly said in a telephone interview. “You need to go through these things. Now we can get to more video and shore things up. We’ve shown when we have a rough outing and attend to details, we get things straightened out. It’s part of process. Everyone’s excited. No one feels different about what this team can accomplish. It was enjoyable outside of the outcome.”

“It was fun to get out there and get the first game under our belt,” midfielder Brandon Barklage said. “It’s not the result we were looking for, but I think we can clean some things up before Thursday and we’ll be OK.

“I think everybody in the locker room understands this is a work in progress. It’s the first game out of close to 30. It’s about how we respond.”

STLFC is on the road again on Thursday in Tulsa, Okla., and then plays its home opener at the Soccer Park in Fenton on April 11.

It’s the first of four meetings between expansion teams St. Louis and Louisville in what the USL is hoping develops into a rivalry between teams separated by 260 miles.

It was a good start for STLFC, which had the better of play over the first half hour or so before Louisville City scored against the run of play. From there, the game got away from STLFC.

“We did good things early then we lost our way after 25, 35 minutes,” forward Mike Ambersley said. “We got away from what we were successful at. It was a learning experience. ... I thought we played our game till the 30th minute or so, then we started getting impatient. We have to realize it’s a long game, we have to keep doing what we do best. To lump it forward to me and Brian (Gaul), it’s not going to work a whole lot. We have to keep the ball on the ground and wear teams out.”

“I thought the first 30 minutes or so, thought we were pretty good,” Schilly said. “We had a little lapse in focus on the goal that made it 1-0. In the second half, we came out and I thought we did a good job but had to start taking some risks with player selections with guys tiring. We did more attacking and got a little exposed. If we scored on one of our early chances, they’re chasing us and it could have been a different story.”

Magnus Rasmussen had a goal and an assist for Louisville. He started the scoring in the 23rd minute, beating a defender to a pass just inside the STLFC box and then beating Mark Pais. In the 68th minute, Charlie Adams shot just outside the penalty area to make it 2-0.

“I’m glad it’s over with,” said Ambersley, “and we finally got that under our belt. It was a good experience for the guys. We got our feet wet in the league. We would have liked to have come away with a point.”

Compiled by Post-Dispatch writer Tom Timmermann in St. Louis

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