They are the only expansion team to start a season 4-0. They are one of the only three teams to start an MLS season 5-0. And on April first, they lost to Minnesota United FC. So what does that mean?
“We are not superhuman after all,” said head coach Bradley Carnell after the match. “All credit to Minnesota. Adrian has done a magnificent job. But I’m really proud of my boys. We lost a game. Next week the score is zero. Now we can’t wait to get back to work.”
St. Louis City SC Loses Against Minnesota United FC
Pushed until the end, but that’s full-time.
— St Louis CITY SC (@stlCITYsc) April 2, 2023
To review – St. Louis City SC, the expansion team that everyone had written off at the start of the season (FiveThirtyEight.com had them finishing last, for example. For what it’s worth, they’ve upgraded that too, um, twenty-fifth as of this writing), brought their undefeated season home to City Park on Saturday, April 1st, to play an equally undefeated Minnesota United FC (though to be clear, the Loons had only two wins to St. Louis’s five).
And to be sure, there were some in attendance who were concerned that this was a trap game. That St. Louis City would be looking past the Loons to next week’s showdown with Seattle – in the Emerald City – and take their eyes off the game at hand. But these worrywarts could not have been more wrong. St. Louis was focused and prepared for Adrian Heath’s side. And, as Coach Carnell admitted, Heath’s side was prepared for them too. Saturday’s match was closely fought – full of end-to-end action, hard challenges, and near misses.
The difference was as marginal as the final score indicated. One shot dips goalward a fraction of a second earlier and it’s a different game; A shot hits the inside of the post instead of the outside, and we’re talking about an entirely different result. And let’s not even begin to talk about how differently some of Minnesota’s chances would have been converted had a certain missing Argentine striker been on the pitch.
So What Happened?
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) April 2, 2023
Well, St. Louis got a dose of their own medicine, actually. Minnesota played St Louis the way St. Louis has played Austin and Charlotte and Portland and San Jose and Real Salt Lake. They pressed constantly. When they lost the ball, they swarmed to get it back. They were physical. And then, yeah, they got a little lucky and converted the opportunity when it presented itself. Sound familiar?
The point is – and the point Carnell was making post-game – is that they lost 1-nil. They didn’t get stomped seven-nothing like some teams recently. And, as players said after the game, no one expected the team to go 34-0. They lost. They’re not invincible. They are still top of the western conference and still top of the league. It happens.
But they lost! Their historic winning streak is over! And why? Because of a second-half call that was, if not actually “soft”, then certainly “mushy”. Followed minutes later by a spectacular non-call, when Klauss got himself kicked in the face in the box! No chair throwing? No chasing the refs into the tunnel? No surrounding the fourth official on the sideline and threatening him with all manner of innuendo? There were no post-game press conferences full of rancor and acrimony and finger-pointing? What kind of soccer team is this anyway?
Apparently a frighteningly well-balanced one. Not just on the pitch, but between the ears as well.
Photo Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports on April 1, 2023, of St. Louis City SC’s Headshot.
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