Another game at CITYPARK, another lopsided scoreline in favor of St. Louis CITY SC.
Penalty kicks from Eduard Löwen and Niko Gioacchini bookended a Tomáš Ostrák finish, giving CITY SC six wins from eight tries at their downtown venue. If only they could always play before the St. Louis soccer faithful, Löwen joked postgame.
“I would like to play here 34 times a year in this stadium and have no away games,” the potential MLS All-Star midfielder said. “It's always great. It doesn't matter if we lose or if we are winning, these fans are just loyal. They're always supporting us and always have our backs.
“I think the team knows that, and we always want to give our best because we want to perform very well for everything the fans in the city are doing for us.”
St. Louis, off to the best-ever start for an MLS expansion team, have mostly steered clear of early-MLS struggles that typically nag newcomers – save for an April/May skid that coincided with a quad injury to DP striker João Klauss.
Increased contributions from Löwen, goalkeeper Roman Bürki and other veterans have proven crucial in ensuring the level remains high and doesn’t regress.
“It's just a lot of fun to lead these young guys and to see how successful we are at the moment,” said Bürki, their first-ever captain.
Asked about their impressive form, head coach Bradley Carnell credited both the St. Louis fans and buy-in to the club’s high-action tactical approach.
“The fans just bring another notch and we have it really good here in St. Louis,” said Carnell. “The fans have taken this on and run with it. … We are so proud of the energy, and then it's the style of play. It's the edginess, it's the chippiness. We always play on that nice edge of what's allowed.
“So from that point of view, we just stick to our guns and our principles and make sure that we are on the front foot and trying to create a bit of havoc and a bit of chaos. But it needs to be controlled, and I think we are getting better at controlling certain moments.”
Carnell feels there’s room to grow, too.
“Is it perfect? No. We don't believe it is,” said the South African manager. “So we have a lot of work to do, and I'd like to control games better in the last 15, 20 minutes of games. I'd like to develop there a little bit with our group as well.
“So it's all not done yet. We know that we have done great things, but we have to continue to be hungry and keep on this mentality.”
With Matchday 17 in the books, St. Louis have three games in hand on second-place Seattle Sounders FC. They’ll also need to be wary of LAFC, who have played two fewer games and will look to charge up the table after a Concacaf Champions League final run has prompted some schedule reshuffling.
All the while, St. Louis are seeking a fine balance between confidence and cockiness.
“I think it's not only about having a good team,” said Löwen. “I think we also have a lot of good individual players. But that doesn't mean we can do less and just relax. Now we have to continue like this and always give 100%. And I think then we have a great season ahead.”