ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The Saint Louis Football Club is keeping a soccer tradition for this city alive. That honor is held slightly closer to the heart’s of eight St. Louis area high school graduates on the roster.

“There is just something special about St. Louis in general with soccer,” AJ Cochran, Saint Louis forward. “It’s unlike anywhere else in the country.“

A 2011 graduate of Christian Brothers College High School, Cochran, is in his first season with Saint Louis, and is one of three former Cadets back home.

But the most experienced St. Louisan, and back for his second year with the team, is a 2001 graduate of De Smet Jesuit High School, forward Mike Ambersley.

“The St. Louis player growing up through high school and college, they are known to be smart players,” Ambersley says. “That just comes from coaching. It’s ingrained in you.”

And the soccer intelligence is even extended from the players and coaches to the fans in St. Louis.

“I know the St. Louis fan is a very knowledgeable fan,” Ambersley says. “They know when people make good plays away from the ball, with the ball, off the ball. They are smart fans. You can feel the atmosphere and their enthusiasm during the game. And that kind of pushes you forward in the tough times.

“A lot of places we play there is not a fan base so it’s tough to get up for those games, but when you come and step out into a full house it’s very fun.”

Ambersley and Cochran are representing the future of soccer in St. Louis and they both show a lot of respect to the players they have to follow.

“Tim Ream to Brandon Barklage, who went to the same high school as I did,” Cochran says. “To Tommy Meyer to a Will Bruin to a Brad Davis. I mean, these are all guys I looked up to growing up.”

I used to watch Mark Filla play for (Saint Louis University), he was a beast,” Ambersley says. “He was one of my favorite players to watch. And he played with an attitude and a mean-ness and I gravitated toward that.”

“You kind of just want to continue the tradition for the city,” Cochran says. “And hopefully the other kids in our program are looking up to us and saying ‘Hey it’s possible. All these guys have done it, why can’t I do it?'”

Cochran has represented his high school as a Missouri state champion, competed for his country with the Under-18 US National Team and played in front of thousands of fans last year with the Houston Dynamo.

Still, he expects next Saturday’s home opener in St. Louis to be something very special.

“You are going to see a good team,” Cochran. “A team that is together and we’ll be looking for three points and we want to represent St. Louis well and everyone a part of it.”

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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