By Dave | Globe Democrat

Friday, June 11, 2010

While the eyes of U.S. soccer are focused on the U.S.-England World Cup match in South Africa Saturday, AC St. Louis resumes its troubled season with a game against the Puerto Rico Islanders at Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Saturday night.

Each team resides at the bottom of its respective conference in the U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 Pro League. The Islanders are 3-4-0 for nine points in the USL Conference, but is plus-two on goals differential (13 for, 11 against). AC is 1-7-1 and minus-11 (six for, 17 against) on goals differential. AC, with four points, is six points behind the next-closest team in the NASL Conference.

For AC, it will be their first match without player-assistant coach Steve Ralston, who signed with his old Major League Soccer team, the New England Revolution, on Tuesday.

Ralston’s departure is part of an effort by AC to save on salary expenses and stay afloat for the rest of this season after losing its financial support from English brothers Heemal and Sanjeev Vaid. The Vaids pulled out of AC and the Athletica women’s team, leading to the Athletica going out of business.

AC has not replaced Ralston and has not announced any other roster changes. AC’s traveling squad to Puerto Rico consists of Mike Ambersley, Dillon Barna, Chad Becker, Mark Bloom, Troy Cole, Jeff Cosgriff, Alec Dufty, Gauchinho, Elvir Kafedzic, Manuel Kante, Luke Kreamalmeyer, Ryan Moore, Christian Nzinga, Brad Stisser, Alex Titton, Jack Traynor and Tim Velten. Three players, defender Zach Bauer, forward James McCarthy and Gilbert Pogosyan, are unavailable for Saturday’s match.

Ralston, meanwhile, dresses Sunday night for his first match since signing with New England. The Revolution have a friendly at home with Brazil’s Cruzeiro Sunday night. New England’s next MLS match is June 27 against Chicago.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Ralston said about the Chicago match in a story posted on the Revolution’s Internet site. “I hope I get the opportunity (to play). I’ll be ready to play. If they ask me to play one minute, 90 minutes – whatever they’re going to ask me to do – I’m going to do it 100 percent. I think the fans know how I always play, and that’s what I’ll be when I go out on the field again.”