CITY SC’s ruthless dismantling of their Midwestern neighbors – powered by second-half goals from Samuel Adeniran (73’), Jared Stroud (75’) and João Klauss (80’, 85’) – gave them 17 wins on the season, the most ever for an expansion team, excluding the pre-shootout era.
With two games remaining, they have clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference – a first in MLS history for an expansion side – and are just two points shy of breaking the single-season points record by an inaugural club, set by LAFC (57 points) in 2018. They have also now qualified for the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup.
To make Saturday’s achievement even sweeter, they won the season series over SKC (2W-1L-0D) while sending their rival further away from the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs field.
“You can check these boxes now, you can check a few things off the list,” head coach Bradley Carnell said postgame. “But we wanna keep on going now. We need a couple of more points to make 58 points, I believe, to make our own.”
Stirred on by raucous home fans, who unveiled a Wizard of Oz-inspired tifo prior to kickoff, St. Louis struggled to gain an edge over Sporting early on in the match. However, a big tackle from Adeniran before the halftime break injected life into the home side – and the goals eventually came pouring out midway through the second half.
“We live and die by those principles of being aggressive,” Carnell said. “And I think that’s what we were today. But for sure these moments help us.”
Adeniran, who opened the scoring with a well-timed header off Edward Löwen's free kick, reached an impressive 8g/1a on the season in less than 900 minutes played. The 25-year-old, acquired in an offseason trade from Seattle Sounders FC, is just one of many St. Louis players defying expectations in 2023.
“In our locker room, we have a paper on the wall that says all of the predictions that, I don’t know exactly who, but they predicted that we were gonna be 13th or 14th in the West,” Adeniran said to MLS 360. “… And yeah, that’s motivation. I look at that thing every single day and I’m like, ‘That’s not gonna happen.’”
St. Louis are not only nowhere near the bottom of the standings, but they have the No. 1 seed and the postseason home-field advantage that comes with it.
“Before the game we were in first place, and the only thing we focused on was our performance,” said goalkeeper and captain Roman Bürki. “We didn’t care about Kansas’ situation.
“… For us it’s good because we have three more points and we keep going for the first-place spot.”
This ambitious mindset has been instilled from the onset by Carnell, who believes his players are still capable of so much more – perhaps even reaching MLS Cup presented by Audi on Dec. 9.
“Again, incredibly proud of these guys,” Carnell said. “And I don’t think we wanna stop any time soon.”