Rivalry Week

João Klauss powers St. Louis CITY in Midwest clash with Chicago Fire


ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The longstanding rivalry between St. Louis and Chicago is nothing new, but the cities’ animosity in Major League Soccer is just emerging.

St. Louis CITY SC hosted the struggling Chicago Fire on Saturday before a sold-out crowd at CITYPARK. Last year’s debut MLS meeting between the teams was chippy at times and saw Chicago prevail at Soldier Field, 1-0, setting the stage for a CITY team hungry to get one over their regional competitors.

This time, St. Louis came out on top in Rivalry Week presented by Continental Tire. Rasmus Alm gave them the lead within two minutes and Hugo Cuypers brought the Fire level early in the second half, but a second-half brace from star forward João Klauss ultimately handed the hosts a 3-1 victory.

“There's a certain buzz and an energy in this stadium and a certain enjoyment and how we like to play,” CITY head coach Bradley Carnell said postgame. “I’m very happy with the way that we continued to apply the principles, to apply the game plan, and very happy to have a response when we conceded the equalizer.”

Klauss heating up

Klauss, in particular, deserves plaudits for his uncanny ability to turn up in big moments. St. Louis’ control was only in doubt for the brief period after Cuypers’ equalizer, and the 27-year-old Brazillian forward put that uncertainty to rest with two clinical close-range finishes.

As St. Louis heat up, going unbeaten in five, so is Klauss. He has four goals and an assist in his last four games, including his man-of-the-match performance against Chicago, recovering from a slow start to the season in which he failed to score in the first month of the campaign.

“The cherry on top is the two goals,” Carnell said. “Klauss plays the way Klauss plays. Just because he doesn't score goals doesn't mean he's not playing well. I think there's a clear distinction.

“Good from him and the cherry on top is getting rewarded for all the hard work. I'm glad it's starting to fall his way a little bit. He's due a couple of goals, and I'm glad he's starting to take those.”

Rivalry brewing

Though they returned home empty-handed, Chicago had a healthy traveling contingent present at their nearest MLS neighbor’s home. Both sets of fans have already made their dislike for one another known since St. Louis’ entry into the league last season, and the feeling of an emerging rivalry between two clubs from two closely intertwined cities was palpable inside the electric CITYPARK.

Nonetheless, Klauss feels that the sentiment of that potential rivalry did not impact his team, though it certainly may send his supporters to bed happy and with crucial bragging rights.

“We don't think about these things during the game,” Klauss said. “For any opponent, we just always try to do our job and try to play the way we want to play the game.”

“If our fans are happy, we are happy," he added. "And we have to say thank you to them because they pushed us so hard today during the 90 minutes.”