Welcome to Major League Soccer, St. Louis CITY SC.
The expansion side made history Saturday night, rallying to beat Austin FC, 3-2, at Q2 Stadium in their inaugural match.
Chapter one of the book St. Louis are writing in their MLS infancy was a categorical, if not somewhat unexpected, success.
“Very proud of this group,” St. Louis CITY SC head coach Bradley Carnell said. “To come here and leave with three points. I don't think there's many greater things.”
Q2 Stadium was a cauldron of noise, an atmosphere St. Louis CITY SC striker João Klauss said he’s missed since signing as the club’s first Designated Player in March 2022.
Klauss, admittedly exhausted in the match’s later stages, scored the decisive goal four minutes from full-time.
“It was one of the important games in my career, it was the first one in MLS as well,” Klauss said. “Starting with a win and a goal was perfect.”
"What we did today was unbelievable," the Brazilian added.
The visitors struck first with center back Tim Parker scoring the historic first goal in club history, heading in Eduard Löwen’s corner kick. It was the veteran’s third MLS regular-season goal and first since 2018.
“It's an amazing feeling. I don't score that many goals. So it's kind of ironic that I scored tonight, in the way that I did,” Parker said. "I’m just really, really, really happy. I think it's a combination of all the hard work that we put in and I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Adversity struck in the form of back-to-back Austin goals – a stunning first-half stoppage time equalizer by Sebastian Driussi and the go-ahead tally by Jon Gallagher in the 72nd minute.
But then St. Louis CITY SC got the most unlikely of equalizers from Jared Stroud, gift-wrapped on an ill-advised back pass by Austin defender Kipp Keller six minutes later.
A road draw against a team that finished second in the Western Conference a year ago, Carnell said, would have been a positive. But to take all three points was a dream start.
“This is a perfect game to grow the team, to grow the mentality of the players, to show that we have the belief to the last minute,” Klauss said. "This is soccer and everything can happen and I'm so proud of the team today."
It’s a moment St. Louis CITY SC have waited 1,286 days for and now it’s on to chapter two – the opening of CITYPARK for the expansion side’s home opener against Charlotte FC on March 4 (8:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).
“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 gonna have an absolute riot waiting for us in St. Louis next week,” Parker said of the discussion in the week leading up to the club’s opener.
“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.”