Not many expansion teams are going to walk away with three points in their MLS debut, but St. Louis CITY SC became one of them to achieve the feat after earning a crucial road victory on Saturday night.
Bradley Carnell’s squad scored two goals in the final 12 minutes of Saturday’s showdown with Austin FC, earning a 3-2 victory over last season’s Western Conference finalists. Despite being pegged back before halftime by Sebastian Driussi and falling down 2-1 with 18 minutes to go, the expansion squad battled back and left Q2 Stadium with a result not many teams earned in 2022.
“Obviously there was a lot of weight on our shoulders coming into this game and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming into a Q2 Stadium against such a stacked, loaded team with the quality like they do have,” Carnell said postgame.
“We found out a lot about our group through preseason,” he added. “We spent a lot of time together. We played some really good opponents, and we feel like we framed this first game in a really good way. Credit to the ownership group for allowing us a platform months ago, years ago, to try and get this day right. So yeah, just extremely grateful to be sitting here tonight and to start off the season with three points is extremely humbling.”
Tim Parker delivered the first goal in club history while former Austin FC attacker Jared Stroud and international striker Joao Klauss both added goals in the second half of a back-and-forth affair. Carnell’s bench was tested early following Indiana Vassilev’s 17th minute substitution through injury, but St Louis CITY SC rose to the challenge and hung with Austin FC every step of the way.
Nicholas Gioacchini delivered the go-ahead assist for the visitors, his first in MLS play before the St Louis CITY SC backline frantically cleared its lines following Driussi’s header in the 95th minute that struck the crossbar. A total of nine Players made their MLS debuts for St Louis CITY SC including Klauss, midfielder Edward Lowen, and defender Kyle Herbert (who was stellar for CITY2 during its inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season in 2022).
With three points claimed in Week 1, St Louis CITY SC will open CITYPARK in Week 2 with 2022 debutants Charlotte FC coming to town. The expectations will remain high following a road win over Austin FC and the Players know that heading into an inter-conference showdown vastly approaching.
“Yeah, we kind of talked about a little bit this week, right,?” defender Tim Parker said about preparing for a home opener. “Like where we said, you know, Austin is going to be an absolute riot. And then if we’re able to play well here and get a result here, we’re going to have an absolute riot waiting for us in St. Louis next week. So, the adrenaline is obviously really high. Everyone’s really happy in the locker room, but we have to regroup this week and recreate that feeling and that buzz again in training.
“This is perfect game to grow the team, to grow the mentality of the Players,” Klauss said. “To show that we have to believe to the last minute. This is soccer and everything can happen, and I’m so proud of the team today.”