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St. Louis CITY SC Makes History as First MLS Expansion Club to Win Four Straight Games

by St. Louis City SC

St. Louis CITY SC made history with their win against San Jose Earthquakes, becoming the first MLS expansion club to start the season with a perfect 4-0-0 record. CITY SC recorded a 3-0 win on the night, with goals coming from forwards Niko Gioacchini, João Klauss and midfielder Tomáš Ostrák. St. Louis CITY SC currently sits atop the Supporters’ Shield standings with 12 points.


Four Straight Wins


After the win against Portland Timbers, CITY SC joined the 2009 Seattle Sounders as the only other expansion club to win each of their first three MLS games. Following tonight’s victory CITY SC became the first expansion team in history to win four straight games at the start of the season.


Roman Bürki Earns First Clean Sheet


CITY SC goalkeeper and captain Roman Bürki recorded his and the club’s first MLS shutout. Bürki made two saves in route to CITY SC’s historic win.


Niko Gioacchini Scores His First CITY Goal


Gioacchini has featured in all four of St. Louis CITY SC MLS matches so far. In his first appearance against Austin FC, Gioacchini provided the game-winning assist to Klauss to secure a crucial three points to start the season. Gioacchini found the back of the net for CITY SC in the 34th minute to open the scoring for the home side.


Klauss Scores Again


St. Louis CITY SC’s Designated Player João Klauss has found the back of the net for the third time in four games this season. Klauss currently leads the team in scoring and has a goal contribution in all four of CITY SC’s games this season.


Additional Notes


·      After coming off the bench last match, Lucas Bartlett started his first MLS game tonight.

·      Aziel Jackson made his first appearance for CITY SC

·      With the win, St. Louis CITY SC is the only team left in the league with a perfect record, 4-0-0.

·      CITY SC goalkeeper and captain Roman Bürki recorded his and the club’s first MLS shutout in history.

·      Forward Klauss has scored or assisted in all four of CITY SC’s matches

·      Following tonight’s victory CITY SC became the first expansion team in history to win four straight games at the start of the season.

·      CITY SC has scored 11 goals in the league which is tied for first with Atlanta United and is second in the league with a goal differential of seven.

·      With their goals tonight, Niko Gioacchini and Tomáš Ostrák became CITY SC’s sixth and seventh goal scorer this season.


Goal-Scoring Plays


STL – Niko Gioacchini, 34 minute: Nicholas Gioacchini right footed shot from the center of the box to the bottom right corner.


STL – João Klauss, 45’+3 minute: João Klauss right footed shot from the center of the box to the bottom right corner.


STL – Tomáš Ostrák, 68 minute: Tomás Ostrák left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner.



Next Game


St. Louis CITY SC are back in action next Saturday against Real Salt Lake at America First Field.


St. Louis CITY SC (4-0-0, 12 pts) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (2-2-0, 6 pts)


Mar. 18, 2023 – CITYPARK (St. Louis, Missouri)


Goals by Half                 1         2         F

St. Louis CITY SC          2         1         3

San Jose Earthquakes  0         0         0


Scoring Summary:


STL: Gioacchini, 34

STL: Klauss, 45‘+3‘

STL: Ostrák, 68


Misconduct Summary:


SJ: Rodrigues (caution), 13

SJ: Miguel Trauco (caution), 40

SJ: Benji Kikanovic (caution), 46

SJ: Cade Cowell (caution), 64

SJ: Michael Baldisimo (caution), 66

STL: Eduard Löwen (caution), 90’+1’





STL: GK Roman Bürki ©; D Jake Nerwinski, D John Nelson, D Kyle Hiebert, D Lucas Bartlett; M Jared Stroud (Miguel Perez 65’), M Eduard Löwen, M Indiana Vassilev (Aziel Jackson 86’); M Rasmus Alm (Tomáš Ostrák 57’); F João Klauss (Sam Adeniran 65’); F Nicholas Gioacchini (Célio Pompeu 86’)


Substitutes Not Used: GK Ben Lundt; D Josh Yaro; D Selmir Pidro; D Akil Watts





SJ: GK JT Marcinkowski; D Jonathan Mensah; D Miguel Trauco (Benji Kikanovic 46’); D Rodrigues; D Caros Akapo; M Carlos Gruezo (Michael Baldisimo 29’); M Jackson Yueill ©; M Tommy Thompson (Paul Marie 46’); F Cristian Espinoza; F Jeremy Ebobisse; F Cade Cowell (Ousseni Bouda 83’)


Substitutes Not Used: D Tanner Beason; M Jack Skahan; D Oskar Agren; D Daniel Munie; GK Emmanuel Ochoa





Referee: Rosendo Mendoza

Assistant Referees: Cory Richardson, Walt Heatherly

Fourth Official: Allen Chapman

VAR: Edvin Jurisevic

AVAR: Tyler Wyrostek


Weather: Clear, 27 degrees





Audio recording of the interviews: Interviews

Bradley Carnell intervew:



BRADLEY CARNELL: First of all, good evening, everyone. Excuse my voice. The stadium’s really loud. To try and get message across, it’s totally insane but that’s credit to these fans, right.

So, reflecting back on the game now, initially, just very proud of this group. The energy, the excitement, the relentlessness and ruthlessness of what we are doing and just the moments of quality, right. So, we show against the ball, we show with the ball, executed the game plan in mind, and I thought the boys had their most complete performance as of today’s date.

So yeah, historical night for the club. Historical night for the league. But the boys are not too fazed about this. They are really just taking things in their stride. And you know, to lose Tim Parker before the game was a big blow for us, and with our next man up mentality, we believe in everybody and everything we do here at this club. And Lucas steps in like a seasoned pro, right. He commits to the principles every single day and just makes sure that he is emptying the tank.

I think between the two centre-backs today, we have I think four MLS games between them. Just shows that with the commitment to the principles and the tactical approach, that we can compete. Certainly humbled, proud, the words are missing at the moment, but yeah, pretty impressive from the boys.

Q. You finally got the clean sheet you’ve been looking for. Defensively, how good does it feel to get that and Bürki comes up with some saves, what went into this defensive effort?

BRADLEY CARNELL: I think we have two shots on target against us. So we are still in every one of the games now, it’s been 5, 3, 3 and 2 on target against us in the four games. So yes, the clean sheet was earned and deserved I thought. We had things pretty much on our terms.

But yes it’s a good feeling. You could see Roman was inching for the clean sheet. He really wanted this one badly. We gave him a ball in the locker room congratulating him on his first clean sheet. But I thought it was a total team performance. The subs came in had a massive impact as well. We are just happy to be relentless and ruthless in our nature.

Q. Gioacchini getting a first goal, going with two strikers today.

BRADLEY CARNELL: Yeah, I think the importance of two strikers and the importance of the guys we went with today, for many, many different reasons, we have the pace of Rasmus on the right side and we have the quality of Klauss and Gioacchini in quick combination. We have guys that are really, yeah, both sides of the ball to do the work.

Gioacchini does an excellent job of attacking, runs off the ball and comes back in again, really impressive. I thought some of our intricate intra-passings today was excellent, right, really intricate, really precise, of which it’s been a tough week, a tough week to come back from Portland with the travel, we lose a day, we lose time, there’s a whole bunch of things that are against us. And we could feel that through the week. The boys were pretty beat up.

But credit to the staff and everyone who manages the loads and everything, so yeah, we feel that we got it right at the right time during the week and yeah, to unleash a performance like this, it’s incredibly impressive.

Q. Wanted to ask you about Klauss. He always thinks he’s open and when he doesn’t get the ball, he shows it. But it’s the mentality, right, in a positive way.

BRADLEY CARNELL: Hundred percent.

Q. Can you talk about that?

BRADLEY CARNELL: He’s just a winner by trade, right. He drives us all, from Roman at the back to Klauss at the top, these guys drive high standards, and we can see it when we get them the ball, when we get Klauss the ball, he’s so dangerous. So he attracts two defenders and it frees up someone else. If there’s only one on him, then he can beat them 1v1. He can hold up the play. He’s got a whole plethora of toolbox. His toolbox, he has so many different things, he can pull out different weapons every single time.

He’s a great guy. He’s like a teddy bear in the locker room. Everyone wants to gravitate toward him because he’s a very approachable guy and he’s a very compassionate guy as well. I just think you’re seeing a group now who is excited to play for each other and excited to just be a unit.

Q. How happy are you for a guy like Thomas who started the first two games, came in and left you wanting more —

BRADLEY CARNELL: Yeah, so there’s two ways to go about it. We can keep on trying him, keep on playing him, and then maybe he’s not really confident, right.

So how do we help him with his confidence? To bring him on when opposition are tired, which is then a nice thing because you have more time and space and then he can reward himself with the work that he does because he’s one of the guys in training, he has immense quality in tight spaces. There’s not too many better out there than him.

Yeah, he is a difference to make a difference, and he has that quality. It’s been pretty strategic how we’ve monitored him and we’ve given him a different gym program, and I think you can see, he falls into moments of fatigue when he is starting. Right now, we might be over the hump, and his projection is back on the up.

Q. How much house money you got right now?

BRADLEY CARNELL: Listen, it’s one of the ways to spark something in the guys, right. So we have gone four rounds now and we built up a bit of credit. We know times will turn and times will change because that’s just the cycle of a soccer season, and it’s just sometimes you don’t get the credit that you might deserve or sometimes you might hit a little bit of a bumpy road.

So we are just preparing for all these things as we go. I said momentum, it’s hard to break. So if we can collect as many points as we can out of the blocks, it’s an incredible experience to be part of this group, this magnificent organization that’s given us a platform to succeed from very early on.

You can see a very strategic plan set out a very long time ago is slowly paying dividends and is slowly paying rewards. We are fortunate and happy to be in a place where, yeah, we can give it back; and I think it’s quite a bold move from us, and we just now have to stay grounded.

I don’t doubt this group for one single day that we don’t remain humble, that we don’t remain — yeah, that we don’t remain eager to learn and to commit. I haven’t had that feeling with this group once since I’ve been here.

Q. One of the announcers said, “They have all been playing off the same page.” How does that make you feel?

BRADLEY CARNELL: Yeah, it’s humbling, right. So we have a bunch of guys from all over the world to come here and to commit to something that’s bigger than all of us. Yeah, it’s pretty humbling for sure. So yeah, I just want to keep this going. Right now the motto is comfortable but never satisfied.

Q. The last three games, you guys have to come back and win games. How important was it to set the pace with the first goal tonight?

BRADLEY CARNELL: Yeah, we are still building our puzzle, right, our picture, our chapter, our book, was three chapters old up until this night, right. So we start now with the fourth game. And you can see in each of the games, we give away five chances against Austin, three against Charlotte, three the next game against Portland and now tonight against San Jose. The pieces of the puddle are coming together, right. I think you can see that. I think the chemistry, the unity within the group and I just think the team camaraderie is excellent.

So I’ve very rarely been involved with something like this with a group of these guys. These guys, yeah, I’m speechless for the boys.

Q. Nelson — inaudible — happening in the third off the defense — how impressive that you guys are able to lose these guys and not lose a step in your system?

BRADLEY CARNELL: Well, that’s what it is. That’s the beauty of having a system. That’s the beauty of having an identity, and the beauty of applying principles, right.

So we apply all of those things in preseason, when you guys aren’t watching, and then all of the sudden we are able to rely on our depth and we are able to rely on guys who might have not played or played college last year or whatever. We don’t really care about that, right.

Yes, experience, you can see the experience with Roman, with Ed Löwen, with Klauss, you can see the experience. But then you put them in a system that’s compact, that’s connected, that’s together and then all of the sudden, Jake Nerwinski finds time on the side or Johnny Nelson. These are our weapons within the system.

We rely on outside backs to be aggressive. That’s one of the positions I pride myself most on because I played that way. I always enjoyed being an attacking outside back, and I expect that out of the boys, too, without losing the shape or the distance. All the moments and tactics and plans involved in all of that; yeah, to see the chemistry and the unity tonight was impressive.

Q. Inaudible.

BRADLEY CARNELL: Gio complements what we have very well, right. He’s excellent on the ball. He has a great engine and empties the tank all the time. He’s very aggressive in his battles. I think he’s found a system and a way that rewards his style of play. Sometimes it’s about painting a picture. You know, do you need oil paint or water-based paint? That’s the thing. I think with Gio, he’s found the right mixture for him to give us the best picture. I think it’s a win-win situation.

Q. Your first clean sheet, does this change the way you’re looking at the next game against Salt Lake?

BRADLEY CARNELL: No, we have internal objectives, right. We have an internal challenge within our group which always stays internal and is not discussed. So the first chapter, we succeeded and blue it out of the park. So how do we reset that, and our objective is not yet done. We still have a couple more legs to go until we evaluate how we were on the first challenge internally. That we achieved these targets to quickly, is it a surprise for us? No. The boys were confident from day one. The boys were angry from day one that no one believed in them.

Yes, we have the chip on the shoulder. We had the chip on the shoulder and now we’ve shown it’s not just about having the chip on the shoulder. We can dominate and take control and we can execute. We have shown a lot of things over the sort of snapshot, what the league has seen right now. For us it’s a mission to carry on, and to reset it every single time. Yeah, we have challenges. We’ll never be sort of too comfortable.

Q. There is a lot of talk before the game about San Jose’s quality and their front three, do you think the crowd played a factor?

BRADLEY CARNELL: Listen, I think you have to approach the game and respect the opponent for what they have done. I said coming into this game they deserve nine points, and you saw that, at moments tonight, where if you’re a step late, they can expose you. If you give them too much room on the right, they expose you on the left. If you go to the left, they expose you on the right. They have some excellent players up the final third.

But yeah, that’s where game planning comes into and tactical approaches come into it. I was really proud of the excuse of the game plan tonight. And then to have difference-makers on the field like Klauss and Löwen; I can go down the list and around the horn that now culminates into a complete team performance.

Yes, the crowd helped magnificently. We know this is going to become sort of, yeah, a really hostile environment. We are trying to create our let me know legacies and histories and trying to do our own thing here in the City of St. Louis.

Did the weather help? I think two teams had to play under the same conditions, you know, but we are excited about this game. It was a contrast of two different styles, two different identities. So it was the one who is going to be the more committed to their own principles and styles, would be the Victor on the day.

Yeah, I think we turned over the ball numerous times in the opponent’s half, and they tried — they are doing a great job with their team and they will be successful for sure this year no doubt.

Q. Was Parker close to being able to play?

BRADLEY CARNELL: Well, I’ve got to work at about 2:30 today and I saw him on the field and I was hopeful. Then I looked around again and I saw his head drop a little bit, I was like, no, he’s out. He’s kind of close.

Q. Looked like he’s optimistic.

BRADLEY CARNELL: Well, that’s the thing, do you lose one of your leaders for one game or do you lose him for ten weeks? So you don’t know. We don’t want to risk anything.

Again, we have confidence in everybody. So we are really happy to give guys the nod and to give playing time. Goes down to City 2 and has a friendly game and Jackson the same, has a big impact, comes back again. We reward guys who empty the tank both ways, for City 2, get a few minutes just to keep sharp. Because if it’s not sharp for City 2, it’s not just sharp for them; and if they can extend minutes, and the only way to replicate real games is having real games. So training, all the loads we give them, they can never replicate the real game. We should be proud of everyone committing, and you can see it gets rewarded.

Lutz Pfannenstiel

On what it says about the team to start…

Yeah, I mean, it’s a beautiful record. And now we frame it and be happy about it for like 25 minutes. But in the end of the day, we need to think about next week, you’re thinking about another game coming up in Salt Lake, which is a difficult team to play against. We know that, especially away from home, they always dangerous. But again, you know, I mean, lots of people thought we’d win four games on season everyone for the first month, basically. So, we’re on pretty good track there I would say. And it’s now again — we won’t change the ID, we want to play from week to week. Really focus on our principle as I said, you know, I mean, it sounds boring — focused on the principles — but that’s really what we’re doing. And I think that’s the only way how we can succeed. We don’t have that individual superstars. We’re a good group of human beings, where the character and being in a group is the most important thing. I think you can feel that outside. Yeah, from the stands if you’re looking down, that there is a good chemistry between all the players. And most important, every time we putting on players from the bench, we do not get weaker. It’s a really strong competition within the group, and I think that’s the feeling you can get.

On whether this was the most complete game the team has played…

Yeah, I mean, I think today was our best game so far all season. I think you could feel today, exactly the principles we were talking about from day one. You saw the time pressing, you got the feeling that we really played our game. We didn’t give them a second to breathe. And I think we deserved that victory, and I’m really, really proud about the coaching staff and the players — they worked hard again, especially after tough travel back from Portland, a tough game in Portland. And San Jose, you know, it’s a good footballing team. They tried to play and try to play through the press. And I said coming to St. Louis shouldn’t be easy. I think San Jose realized that it’s not easy because we won’t make it easy for our opponents here and congratulations to the team.

On the depth of the roster…

I mean we have a deep – let’s put it this way. We have a deep roster, where if you do have one or two injuries, players coming in with a good mentality, you know, it’s not always just about the level of the player. It’s also about the mentality — come in and make that moment into a big moment for yourself.


Roman Bürki

On how it felt to get a clean sheet…

This time, I was really paying attention what I’m going to say before the game. I mentioned that — I said we need that clean sheet mentality to win this game, and the team delivered with the fans in the back. It was an amazing day.

On his save in the 61st minute…

Yeah, I mean, it was about time. Last time we talked, I had almost — or one – save. Now, I have a little bit more. No, I’m happy about that. I’m happy that I can help the team like that. But like I said, the team was brilliant today.

On Barlett stepping up…

Yeah, amazing. I talked to him, and I told him that it was a really good performance. It’s not easy just to come in and he didn’t know until like one hour before the game that he was going to play because we were waiting on Tim to see if he could or not. It’s just amazing, and also how the team integrated him and all that. We tried to help him with Kyle. Really good and I’m really proud of him.


João Klauss

On if there is any special meaning behind being the first expansion team in MLS history to start 4-0…

Yeah, of course. It’s really important that we wrote our names into history. As everyone knows, no one believed in us before the season. And I think we trust each other. We trust the people that we are working with every single day. And yeah, it was important for the club, important for us. You know, in football when you retire, you stop. It’s so easy. So, I think today we put our names in the history of the MLS, and also getting the clean sheet that has a lot of special meaning as well.

On the effectiveness of the pressing style and how it has made them deadly the last four games…

Yeah, I think it’s really tough. From the opening to play against a team that is pressing all the time, because you have no time to have the ball or to think about the game, so you have to make fast decisions. It’s not a lot of teams that’s playing this style. So, they have to change their game when they play against us. They have to be faster. And they are. I think we are surprising some teams in this beginning.

On the importance of the support from the fans and how it can motivate his game…


Of course, it feels great when they know that people recognize what I’m doing for my job. It’s my job. And other people are important for me. Yeah, I also love the city. As you guys know, now I can feel that city is my home. It’s my people that live here. And I’m really proud to be part of this community.


Lucas Bartlett

On what it means for this team to get a clean sheet….

Everything we’ve been fighting for the last three games. I was really happy that we got it tonight when I was playing obviously, it’s something as a group we’ve all worked for, the entire team.

On how you felt defensively throughout….

Yeah, of course. I mean, lots of nerves walking into your first start, but I felt within the first five minutes that it was just a game and you know, I’m happy to be around the guys that I train every day with and they helped me through it.

On how important it was for the team to set the tone on the first goal….

I think it’s the first time we’ve led and that was huge momentum for us as we’ve been battling back against everybody we played in the first three games. So that was a big momentum for us, a big moment for us to kind of go for in this game, and, you know, the guys executed up top — they were amazing.


Tomáš Ostrák

On this performance being the best out of the first three games…

I think so. I hope we’re going to continue with the performances and hopefully win the next game, so yeah. So, I look forward to the next games.

On the importance of the first goal setting the tone for the game…

It was really important because in the last games we were behind in goals first. So, it is important that we didn’t concede the goal. And it’s also good for our confidence that we , continue with our performances and still can do better.

On the difference coming off the bench compared to starting…

For me, it doesn’t matter. Of course, I would like to start in the starting eleven, but coach wants me to come off the bench. So, I accepted that, and I just gave everything for the coach and for the club and for the team.

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