Things got heated in the Midwest as St. Louis CITY SC held its ground against Sporting Kansas City, trouncing the fabled MLS franchise 4–0 in front of over 22,000 fans.
Things felt “historical” between the teams, but Matchday 14 was the first time the squads have met so the on-pitch drama drew from cultural animosity between the states and their claims to American soccer history. Both clubs made the most out of their marketing departments with numerous videos adding gasoline barbs to the stoked embers of hooligan pride.
“[The boys] took it personal; what it means to St. Louis and what it means to every individual who works for this club,” said St. Louis head coach Bradley Carnell.
The home crowd kept the team motivated with supporter’s groups chanting “oh, capital city” in reference to their claim as the “soccer capital of America” – a distinction long-held by the Kansas-side of Kansas City (for non-U.S. readers, the east side of the city sits in Missouri, St. Louis CITY SC’s state).
And the team responded with phenomenal efforts by Jared Stroud with two assists, Indiana Vassilev with two goals, a 19th minute penalty conversion by Eduard Löwen, and a 55th minute goal by Nicholas Gioacchini.
“You get to a game like this, and it’s not next week, next week, next week,” said Carnell. “We want to have this competition, this internal passion and fire burning from within, but tonight was almost a ‘have-to’ game, and that’s what I felt that the players responded in a great way.”
The back line held strong too, with a collective command performance from defensemen Jakob Nerwinski on the right, the center back duo of Lucas Bartlett and Tim Parker, and Kyle Hiebert on the left. Keeper Roman Bürki had six key saves to keep his sheet clean.
“Our fans are kind of a big part of us; they really contribute to how we play. We heard it’s a rivalry, we heard they didn’t like KC so in return we don’t like KC. That’s just how the cards fall,” said Vassilev.
“St. Louis CITY. Soccer capital of the U.S. I think we were able to prove that tonight,” he cheekily added.
The sides will meet again over in Kansas on September 2. By then, St. Louis hopes to keep rising in its debut season while KC will look to correct its ailments and stop a freefall that currently has them sitting 13th in the conference with 10 points, and an alarming -12 goal deficit (nine in favor, 21 against).
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