By Brian Maurer
João Klauss (on the ground) celebrating with teammates after scoring the game-winner against Austin FC (photo courtesy of St. Louis CITY SC)
The New Kids on the Block
St. Louis CITY SC is 2023’s expansion team. They hold the record for most season ticket deposits (more than 60,000). Also, it is argued by fans and players local to St. Louis that their city is the capital of soccer in the United States. While this can be debated by several cities, what is undeniable is that St. Louis has a strong sporting history in the Midwest.
Their inaugural head coach, Bradley Carnell, spent his early managerial career working as an assistant and briefly as an interim coach for New York Red Bulls. What he brings to St. Louis is a strong pressing, high work rate philosophy. Similar to what you see in New York. Many of their early international signings match with this philosophy as they came from the German Bundesliga, a league known for its high-work rate and pressing.
Their First Game
St. Louis CITY SC shocked MLS on Saturday by beating Austin FC in Austin. Austin FC were the biggest betting favorite for Week 1, according to Draft Kings Sportsbook. St. Louis CITY SC accomplished this by playing their brand of soccer, ceding possession to Austin FC, putting on pressure, making lots of challenges and countering. They only had 43% possession, but their style of play led them to outshooting Austin FC 18-13 and putting up a come from behind victory 3-2. Although it does need to be said that their second goal was one of the greatest defensive howlers I have ever seen.
After such a big first moment for the club they will be setting their eyes hungrily on their inaugural home match against Charlotte FC, who struggled mightily on the road last season.
Players to Watch
João Klauss - Klauss is one of their designated player (DP) signings. He is a striker who was signed from the Belgium first division. He scored his first goal for the club against Austin, which was also the game winner.
Eduard Lӧwen - St. Louis CITY SC’s other DP signing. He is a midfielder who has 78 appearances in the German Bundesliga. In their match against Austin he was taking their corner kicks and assisted the clubs first ever goal by sending in a corner kick that was put in by center back Tim Parker.
Nicholas Gioacchini - the 22 year old is a forward who was selected from Orlando City during the expansion draft. The USMNT prospect has made eight career appearances for the national team. He came on in the second half as a sub and made four shot-creating-actions in his 30 minutes of play, one of which was an assist on the game winning goal scored by Klauss.
Graphic courtesy of St. Louis CITY SC
Outlook for 2023
Many MLS pundits and fans around the league projected St. Louis CITY SC to be near the bottom of the Western Conference. This is pretty common for new expansion teams as the process of putting together a full roster is complicated and predicting the outcome for a brand new team is pretty difficult to know. Coming out and getting their first win on the road in their inaugural match will definitely boost their spirits through the early portion of the season.
However, the season is a long road, FC Cincinnati claimed seven points out of their first four matches and went on to claim three consecutive wooden spoons. Starting strong is fun and is an emotional high, but maintaining success is what St. Louis CITY SC will need to do to prove the pundits wrong and to earn some league wide respect.