Not Just Expansion History, But MLS History in St. Louis’ Sights
St. Louis CITY SC has proven once again that they are not your usual expansion side, as three straight consecutive comeback wins has them sitting atop the Supporters’ Shield standings early in 2023. With a win at home versus the San Jose Earthquakes this week, St. Louis would become the first expansion club in MLS history to win each of their first four games.
Not only is St. Louis aiming for expansion club history, but they also have their sights set on MLS history. Only four teams in league annals (excluding the shootout era) have won their first four games to start a season. Additionally, all four of the teams that started the season with four straight wins went on to make the postseason that year.
The most consecutive wins by a club to start an MLS season (excluding the shootout era):
LAFC Aiming to Make Championship Pedigree Look Easy
If anyone believed that LAFC might have a championship hangover, the Western Conference side has proven them wrong, scoring seven goals en route to a 2-0-0 start. Dénis Bouanga has started the season hot with two goals and two assists in the regular season, while also adding a hat trick in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 tie.
The club goes on the road for the first time in MLS play, traveling to a resurgent Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass / FOX). With a win against Seattle, LAFC would become just the fifth defending champion to start the season 3-0-0. Excluding the shootout era, the only other team to do so was the 2011 Colorado Rapids.
The defending MLS Cup champions to start the following season 3-0-0 or better:
Nashville’s Defense Looking for Four in a Row
With seven points from their first three games, Nashville SC’s start to the season has gone under the radar in 2023. Their strong beginning has been a direct result of a stout defense as the club has yet to allow a goal across three matches. By shutting out the New England Revolution this weekend, Nashville would join the 2012 Vancouver Whitecaps and 2007 New York Red Bulls as the only clubs to record four consecutive clean sheets to start a season.
The most consecutive shutouts to begin a season by a club in MLS history:
Joe Willis: Shot-Stopper Extraordinaire
Nashville SC goalkeeper Joe Willis has been at the center of the club’s defensive effort and would become the only player in MLS history to blank four consecutive opponents to start the season, as Vancouver and New York played multiple goalkeepers in their respective record-setting seasons. With his clean sheet on Matchday 1 against New York City FC, Willis hit 50 career clean sheets, becoming the eighth active goalkeeper to reach the mark.
The most consecutive clean sheets to start a season by a goalkeeper in MLS history:
Cristian Espinoza Especially Great for San Jose
The San Jose Earthquakes have opened the season with wins in two of their first three matches under new head coach Luchi Gonzalez. Under Gonzalez, star midfielder Cristian Espinoza has catalyzed the ‘Quakes attack by providing a goal or assist in each of the club’s first three games this season. In San Jose history, only Brian Ching (five) in 2005 has opened the season with a goal contribution in each of the first four games.
For Espinoza, his goal contributions have been timely for the Earthquakes, as he has provided the game-winning goal and game-winning assist in each of the last two matches, respectively. The Argentine will look to move one step closer to Ching when they take on St. Louis CITY SC this Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass).
The most consecutive games with a goal or assist to start a season in San Jose Earthquakes history: