St. Louis CITY SC scored a pair of goals in each half to record a massive 4-0 win against cross-state rivals Sporting KC. CITY SC opened the scoring in the 19th minute through Eduard Löwen, before Indiana Vassilev doubled the hosts lead ahead of the halftime break. CITY SC forward Niko Gioacchini added a third before Vassilev curled home his second of the night.
Back to Winning Ways
St. Louis CITY SC got back to winning ways in extraordinary fashion, scoring four against their rivals Sporting KC. Prior to tonight CITY SC last won at home against FC Cincinnati back in April. With the win, CITY SC jumps to 22 points, which is good for third in the MLS Western Conference standings, three points behind LAFC and one point behind Seattle Sounders.
Indiana Vassilev, Man of the Match
St. Louis CITY SC midfielder Indiana Vassilev found the back of the net twice against Sporting KC and was very involved throughout the game. Vassilev was also responsible for drawing the penalty that Eduard Löwen scored to put CITY SC up 1-0.
- Roman Bürki recorded his third clean sheet of the season
- With six saves on the night, Bürki now has five MLS games with five or more saves this season, tying Djordie Petrovic and Brad Stover for the most in MLS
- With his two assists tonight, Jared Stroud became the fourth CITY SC player to record a multi-assist game across all competitions
- Stroud is the third CITY SC player to record a multi-assist game in MLS action (Löwen vs Austin FC and Klauss vs FC Cincinnati)
- Stroud’s five (5) key passes set the new single-game high for CITY SC
- With his brace tonight, Indiana Vassilev is now the third CITY SC player to record a multi-goal game across all competitions
- Vassilev is the second CITY SC player to record a multi-goal game in MLS play (Klauss vs Real Salt Lake)
- CITY SC remains undefeated (5-0-1) in MLS action when they score first
- CITY SC has scored at least three (3) goals in every home win this season (3-1 vs Charlotte, 3-0 vs San Jose, 5-1 vs FC Cincinnati, 4-0 vs Sporting KC)
- St. Louis native John Klein made his MLS debut, after joining CITY SC from CITY2
- Löwen and Gioacchini are now tied for the most goals at CITYPARK this season across all competitions with four (4) goals each
STL – Eduard Löwen (penalty), 19th minute: Eduard Löwen converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
STL – Indiana Vassilev (Jared Stroud), 25th minute: Indiana Vassilev left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.
STL – Niko Gioacchini (Jared Stroud), 55th minute: Nicholas Gioacchini right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.
STL – Indiana Vassilev (Tomáš Ostrák), 75th minute: Indiana Vassilev left footed shot from the right side of the box to the top left corner.
St. Louis CITY SC remains in town for a home match against Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, May 27.
May 20, 2023 – CITYPARK (St. Louis, MO)
Goals by Half 1
St. Louis CITY SC 2 2 4
Sporting Kansas City 0 0 0
STL: Eduard Löwen (penalty), 19
STL: Indiana Vassilev (Jared Stroud), 25
STL: Niko Gioacchini (Jared Stroud), 55
STL: Indiana Vassilev (Tomáš Ostrák), 75
SKC: Gadi Kinda (caution), 28
STL: Jake Nerwinski (caution), 30
SKC: Daniel Salloi (caution), 42
STL: GK Roman Bürki ©; D Jake Nerwinski, D Njabulo Blom (Miguel Perez 78′), D Kyle Hiebert, D Lucas Bartlett, D Tim Parker; M Jared Stroud (Tomáš Ostrák 69′), M Eduard Löwen (John Klein 79′), M Célio Pompeu; F Niko Gioacchini (Aziel Jackson 88′), F Indiana Vassilev
Substitutes Not Used: D Josh Yaro, D Selmir Pidro, D Jon Bell, M Isak Jensen, GK Ben Lundt
TOTAL SHOTS: 15; SHOTS ON GOAL: 6; FOULS: 18; OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 6
SKC: GK Kendall McIntosh; D Andreu Fontas, D Dany Rosero, D Graham Zusi (Jake Davis 63′), D Tim Leibold (Logan Ndenbe 46′); M Nemanja Radoja, M Gadi Kinda (Eric Thommy 46′), M Remi Walter (Roger Espinoza 77′); F Johnny Russell © (Marinos Tzionis 77′), F Alan Pulido, F Daniel Salloi
Substitutes Not Used: GK John Pulskamp, M Felipe Hernandez, F Stephen Afrifa, D Chris Rindov
TOTAL SHOTS: 17; SHOTS ON GOAL: 7; FOULS: 9; OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 11; SAVES: 2
*All stats here are unofficial
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Ryan Graves
Fourth Official: Jeffrey Swartzel
VAR: Jose Carlos Rivero
AVAR: Kaili Terry
Weather: Clear, 67 degrees
ST. LOUIS CITY SC POSTGAME QUOTES
BRADLEY CARNELL: First off I’ll start by saying we needed this, right. Yeah, one clean sheet in the last — or the first clean sheet in the last seven games, and it’s something that, yeah, it has not been an easy stretch for us, right. We’ve had a tough month over the last couple of weeks, and to bring it all out tonight, we spoke a lot, and sometimes talking too much, you know, just leads you down different paths. We made an agreement to talk less and do more.
So great to see the boys come out with a performance like they did just with the aggression and the passion and the desire and the belief, which instills confidence in your teammates, and the willingness to run for each other. The one counterattack with Thomas Ostrák and Indy, the willingness to get on your bike, get on the overlap and just to empty your tank for your teammate.
Credit to the group and extremely proud of these guys. With a magnitude of this match, just really proud to be sitting here, and result aside, I just thought the boys went back to who — what makes us look good, our signature, you know, and again, we take these points and we move on to next week.
Q. You had said the other day that you were not concerned about the scoring because of the opportunity you created especially with Chicago the last game. Is this it’s just a matter of patience paying off?
BRADLEY CARNELL: Listen, we’ve done a lot of individual stuff, as well, so credit to the coaching staff. Credit to everyone preparing video clips and the individual development of these players.
So yeah, not that things were neglected. You know, I always said, comfortable, never satisfied from day one when we got our first win and when we went on a stretch, right, a streak. It’s just this mindset and the mentality, and it’s not easy.
You take a few things, you think about all the way back to Minnesota, a penalty decides the game and then it’s Portland, another penalty decides the game, and then you’ve got your bodies in the corner and you kind of are pinned in and how do you start freeing yourself? You start freeing yourself by working harder and believing in what you’re doing.
With a young group like we have, it just takes time, right. We knew things will turn. And have they turned? Yeah, three points in the bag, and you know, things are looking good. We have to utilize the home-field advantage. I mean, tonight, again, gives me goosebumps down my spine just the type of atmosphere, when you walk out here and you just see what receives us, what the reception is, it’s incredible.
Yeah, just again, grateful for everyone who came out and happy that the boys responded in a certain way that they took this almost personal. They took it personal; what it means to St. Louis and what it means to every individual who works for this club. Yeah, very grateful for that.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the play that Blom made when he stole a ball and started what led to a great goal. I just thought it was a really impressive play. What did you see?
BRADLEY CARNELL: I can show you where he did that for — we know Njabulo needs a pathway to be who we signed, right.
So just a bit of fitness, a bit of belief, and he just grows within the group, right, and if he plays with performances like this, you know, we have a great relationship there. We have great options. Indy can play the six. Miggy Perez can play the six. Blom can play the six. Watts can play the six and then Eduard Löwen complements that. We need the feistiness in the midfield. We need the ball-winning mentality in the midfield. We need the ruthlessness in the midfield.
Again we have done these signings with purpose, right. So does it all come together with the flick of a switch? No, it’s a work-in-progress and it’s over time. Jobs didn’t join us last year in June. He joined us now in January. For him to get up to speed, first of all, physically, and then mentally what this game, what this league, what the travel requires, yeah, it takes time.
So really happy with jobs performance tonight. We squeezed 75 minutes out of him, so again, we just don’t want to put him into harms way, and just we want to bring these guys along in a professional manner to make sure that, yeah, we are ready to go for next week.
Q. Following on Blom, how important is he to letting guys like Eduard and Indiana range forward and be more aggressive than they have been the last few games?
BRADLEY CARNELL: I think every successful team has one of those players, right. You look at the Philadelphia Unions of the world with Martinez and you can go overseas and look at what complements their midfield. I think it’s the nature of the game, especially the way that we play and the transition game model that we play.
We want to get guys forward. We want to get good ballplayers and we want to string good sequences in the attack. We need to give Eduard a little bit of the freedom but it needs to be complemented with some good discipline and good structure against the ball even when we have it, right, so we just need that balanced attack.
Q. You referenced the magnitude of this game and said it almost felt person. It wasn’t too long ago that guys on this team wouldn’t have been able to tell you like where the Arch was or what it was. How did you guys get a team full of guys who maybe didn’t understand what this rivalry was to embrace it and to turn that into something that motivated them?
BRADLEY CARNELL: I think the game itself comes at the right time. You know, when almost, you know, we get out to the start that we did, and then, you know, one or two results don’t go our way but we are still looking really comfortable in the table, in the Western Conference.
But for us now, we have taken hits to the chin a few times. And these guys, they don’t like this. My players, we don’t like this. No coach likes to lose a couple on the bounce. No coach likes to go through the stretch that we do, and just have trust and belief in the process, and it will come out. But then you get to a game like this, and it’s not next week, next week, next week. It’s almost, now is the response.
And yeah, the players were brutally honest with each other. I mean, we’ve always been brutally honest with each other. That’s what I love about my group. They challenge me. I challenge them, and we can speak openly about things.
And this is the greatness that we want to believe. We want to have this competition, this internal passion and fire burning from within, but tonight was almost a half-to game, and that’s what I felt that the players responded in a great way.
Q. I want to ask you about Kyle Hiebert who this week there was a lot of talk about the left back position, and he ended up playing there, can you talk about the decision-making and also what you saw from him today?
BRADLEY CARNELL: Yeah, I saw a really complete performance, right. In the first half, yes, he helped us get in the attack. He had good overlapping moments. He brought Eduard Löwen in the game really well, which is actually not his game, right. But he’s a good teammate smart and does whatever is needed for the team and he shows he can do it. He’s a good 1v1 defender.
So when you have Johnny Russell, who is one of the best wingers in the League driving at you in a 1v1, and cutting inside and going on the outside and can really beat you with a dribble, I thought it held his own and he did really, really well.
Really proud of the group and he’s one of the main guys on the back line that helped us keep that clean sheet. Incredibly excited about what he gave us, what he gave his teammates. He got asked to be put in a tough situation, and he responded really well.
So credit to him. And you know, we go with guys who are playing with momentum, got form, training well. So everything of the above comes into the equation when we have to make a lineup. So we went with that lineup and it proved to be the right decision.
Q. Talk about Indiana’s overall performance tonight. We know about the who goals but what most pleased you about the fact that he was able to find the back of the net twice?
BRADLEY CARNELL: Yeah, Indy has a great engine, right, and he’s a smart soccer player. He knows against the ball how to surprise the opponent, how to jump them at the right time, not arrive too early, not arrive too late, and he covers a ton of distance.
He’s a really smart soccer player and I enjoy working with Indy. You can play him — we’ve always sort of spoken about all-rounders within our game model, right, and Indy, you can plug in a six, and all three of the ten spots that we use up top.
So any one of the attacking midfielders, so having a look at what he does to the team, what he brings to the team, that’s all on the field stuff.
Off the field is another — is another Indy. Indy is the jokester. He’s the guy who brings energy. He’s the guy who is smiling every time. He’s the guy who brings competition in training exercises or whether it’s small rondos or whether its in the warmup little competition. He’s a great character and human being and being soccer player for us in our game model. Credit to him that he finally recorded himself with a couple of accolades tonight.
Q. Sticking on Indy, you mentioned at the midweek press conference saying he wanted to be up more in the attack, and you rewarded him — does it feel a little bit of a vindication response?
BRADLEY CARNELL: No, it’s good. We could — we could flex between Indy and the six and Eduard at the ten which we have done as well. We just look at different matchups, different opponents, different player personnel and to see where we can find space and how that looks, right. So against the ball we had one formation with the ball, we had another formation.
Again for the players to apply this, you know, really proud of these players. We challenged them in many ways, and to see them come up with a performance like tonight; and the game was one in the first half, right. So we really tightened the screw, tightened the screw, killed the passion early on, and Indy was a big part of that.
Q. Without having Klauss the last few weeks, Nico feeling a little bit more pressure, how important was it for him to have that home-run hitting night?
BRADLEY CARNELL: Yeah, so we changed a little bit of Nico — recalibrated Nico a little bit, right. I found he was coming underneath in too many games trying to find the game. Working off Klauss, that’s what we need him to do.
But being the Klauss now, or being the lone target striker, the profile changes. The job description, I would say, call it that, changes, right.
So we have been working on him quite a lot over the last ten days, I would say, just try to keep him on that back line just running in behind, and if he needs to drop then somebody else need to have a double movement and running him behind. So I thought that was on point tonight.
And I thought he won some very important aerial duels. He committed to getting on the move and getting in behind. Hold that play, bring the next person into the next phase and invite the next phase of the attack. So these are some of the things that have broken down over the last few weeks, and I thought we took strides forward this weekend.
Q. When did you find out? When did you know Klauss wasn’t going to be able to play tonight? How close was he?
BRADLEY CARNELL: So he was pretty close. I think in a pinch, if we had to. But again, Klauss is not a robot and we need robot performance from him. We trusted a lot in our teammates and Klauss was, you know, honest enough to say, this is not the right one. He could have been pushed with all the emotions and energy and willingness because he wants to be back as soon as possible.
Yeah, we pushed him a little bit yesterday and he just didn’t feel right. So part of it is getting over it physically. The next challenge is mentally now. Am I ready to go; am I ready to go at a hundred percent.
But with one, Klauss not being available, a great opportunity for Johnny Klein, right. So what a moment to bring in Johnny who has not just trained well with us when he’s trained well with us, not just played well with City II but massive moments with City II and we thought this could be the storybook conclusion for him tonight and it proved to be so.
Really excited to get him on the roster and to reward his performances with City II. It’s a club that we believe in from top down, from bottom up, we want to believe and trust the process and reward people who is doing everything possible for the club.
So glad to get Johnny on the field.
Q. And what did you make of Burki’s performance and did you get a sense that was deflating to Sporting KC, some of the saves that were doubled up when they thought they might have had an opening?
BRADLEY CARNELL: We started to fatigue, right, so I think it goes in moments in games. You think of the Cincinnati game, at 5-0 we let one in, extremely bitterly disappointed. You could see the willingness of the group. I saw Lucas Barlett, Kyle Hiebert, Tim Parker double down 1v1 on Alan Pulido, 2v1s, and this is what we pride ourselves by, and it’s not going to work all the time, right.
And when you have a guy like Roman to back it up, you know, with a complete performance from the back group and then obviously these guys are quality players, right. So they hold their own at LAFC, really dominate the game for many moments.
So for us to have a game like this, and a goalkeeper like Roman Burki in the second half to come up two or three times, yeah, I’m just proud that we didn’t — this was not a Colorado right, where we felt that we failed Roman, we felt like we let him down there.
I thought like everybody emptied the tank tonight. It’s not going to be perfect, and we might give up a chance or two here. We mitigated those for a large part of the game, and when we needed Roman, then he shows his quality and his class, and that’s what he is and that’s what we have.
Q. Latinos are excited and the Latin community is excited about him. Do you think that he’s going to be able to play a little more against Club America?
BRADLEY CARNELL: If he’s available and he’s not injured, there’s no reason not to play Miggy Perez. We played him in the biggest games in Seattle.
We’ve done a lot with Miggy Perez. Regardless of opponent, we are not here for sentimental value, right. So we are here for professional performances, and we believe in Miggy.
Miggy has done great things this year. We project him to grow as a person within this club and to grow as a young pro, and it’s our jobs to keep him on the ground and humble and really excited to get him on the pitch tonight, not from a starting position but for him to come on and close out the game.
Yeah, when the month of July rolls around and the League’s cup is on our doorstep, why not.
Q. When you were up 3-0, you said you were plan to go get Miggy in later for Blom but what’s your mindset up when you’re up 3-0, how do you balance getting the young players in like Klein and AZ versus bringing in Ostrák to seal the game away?
BRADLEY CARNELL: Yeah, good. I mean, listen, the game goes in certain directions, and how can we complement that. They bring on Ndenbe in the start of the staff. They bring on Erik Tommy, some really good players, really dangerous players. And Ndenbe, really forward, free flowing outside back.
We look at complementing that, get Thomas on, get Miggy Perez on and trying to deal with the qualities that they just bring on, right. So we could stretch that as long as possible. We knew that guys are going to run out of steam a little bit, Jared Stroud, Gioacchini we pushed a little bit longer than we wanted to.
Again, we just hope for energy and a next wave of relentlessness. I think you could see that in moments. Was it perfect? It’s never perfect. You need guys to find the speed of the game, and I’ve lived it as a player, the first 15 minutes of any game, you feel like you need three lungs because you just can’t get the air, right, just to break that second wind and you just can’t get going.
Once it settles in, you ask guys to go 15 minutes, you know, oxygen levels are hard to come by right now just to fill the tank with oxygen, just to try to get them up to speed of the game and to get acclimated to the game, and these are young players, right. So we are just trying to get them these experiences for hopefully bigger things down the road here.
On how it felt to score and do it by chipping the goalie…
Great, especially in this fashion and against this opponent, you know it’s something that we work on, I work on all week. I’ve been working on for several weeks and finally being able to put it together, what the plan was and execute as wished and as prepared for it was fantastic. Yeah, you know it was I think it was I didn’t do it to be fancy I did it because that was you know he went down I felt like a I was little early, so you know I peeked up and saw how his movement was and adapted to it. So yeah, the finish was good, but I could have scored a couple more today, but you know that’s something else to review and work on.
On how it felt playing with the adjustments made in the last few weeks…
I had a personal adjustment that I talked to my teammates about, especially Indiana, because you know, he was in the 10th spot today. And I felt like last the game against Chicago I squeezed the space by coming in. So today, I stayed away a little more, gave him space to turn into and combine with the midfielders and it worked out. So that’s something to keep in mind for the future games.
On how it felt to play in this game being from Kansas City…
Oh, you know, I usually say it’s a game like all the others, but it wasn’t you know, I came prepared for this game to do what I do best. And I was gonna take no prisoners with me today. You know, let’s say they had the chance to take me when I was young and they didn’t so you know, it’s a good feeling to come back and be able to score against the side who has also been doing decently in the last few games, you know? They’ve picked up a little more so to be able to shut them down here at home. Under such circumstances is wonderful.
On what he saw from Indiana Vassilev…
Yeah, you know, I never really mention individual players. But if you asked me directly again, I think no, definitely I mean scoring two goals, being involved a lot. He was, he was outstanding today, but so were other players. Gave us a real good team effort, starting with the goalkeeper, you know yet again, good again. An unbelievable save but then it really went through the defensive lineup to the midfield, where I told Pompeu he had a fantastic game as well. But as I said, it’s unfair to mention one or two or three players anybody performed up to that level will go to see and think it was highly, truly deserved.
On how important this win is without having Klauss…
Yeah, no, I think it was always the easiest excuse to have to say, well, you know, without Klauss, it’s really incomplete. I mean, that’s obviously not true. It’s, we have enough depth to actually cover one player. But of course we are waiting and hoping that Klaus is back as soon as possible because it makes us even stronger. Also, with Klaus himself, we have a very important player missing. So in the end of the day, I think all the guys who were out in the field today plus the substitutes they just performed, they they showed that we do have the depths they show that we have a great team spirit. And I think as you said the result speaks for itself but it was for me more the way we came out of the changing room to be very, very motivated to be very sharp to be immediately up for the challenge. I think we want most of the 5050s we want lots of second balls. I think that kind of stings. That Hungriness is what we saw in the first few games. You definitely saw today.
On the depth of the team’s homegrown players Caden Glover, Miggy Perez and Johnny Klein…
You know, I was hoping for that question. And I think to to bring Johnny Klein up that shows what we want to do. So I know there is lots of calling for bigger names and these names like Roberto Firmino. Everything flies around out there, but to bring Johnny Klein today from the second team in front of a sellout crowd after he really did that well there and performed that well that he just deserved that. Again, it’s a very gentle story. He’s a local kid, you just played over the street at SLU and now suddenly he’s playing in front of 23,000 people, 22,500 people. And in the end of the day, that’s what we want to do as a club. Give local kids an opportunity. Now you have me at the same time on the field like you had no Johnny, you had Caden last week, three more or less homegrown guys who are right out there.
On being a team player and taking pride in the effort put in…
I scored two goals, which is awesome but the most important thing is we have three points and are back on track. I think we played how we wanted to play right from the start of the game. We started very sharp. We were on top of them and four goals scored, zero conceded. Really nice night in St. Louis.
On the rivalry…
Our fans are kind of a big part of us. They really contribute to how we play. We heard it’s a rivalry, we heard they didn’t like KC so in return we don’t like KC. That’s just how the cards fall.
On Blom’s play leading to the second goal…
Blom was so good today. I think we really missed him. He’s so good at breaking plays up and creating attacking chances for us. I thought he was outstanding.
On things going well and everyone appearing to be on the same page…
Yeah, I think so I think it was a very good game from us. And I think if we kept playing a little bit longer, maybe we would have scored even more goals. I think Kansas didn’t have many chances. Didn’t get dangerous pretty often, maybe two or three times quickly.
On Indiana’s efforts…
No, it’s not today only he’s always putting a lot of effort in he’s always running, running, running, even if he’s tired. Even if he can’t run any more. He keeps running. And I’m very happy for him that he could reward himself with two goals. Great goals by the way. First one was very good and the second one was amazing for sure. So, I’m very happy for him.
On whether it was important to break through offensively without having Klauss…
Yeah, for sure. We scored four goals, knowing even without him but Klaus is not only good at scoring goals, defensively he’s very good. He’s technically very good. So many defenders are focused on him, which gives other players a lot of space. So, he’s more than just a goal scorer. He’s right on the ball. He holds the ball. He’s aggressive. He’s so many things and for sure are looking forward that he’s coming back soon.
On the steal that he made that led to the goal…
I mean, I was just following the principles from training with pressing and counter-pressing after losing the ball. So I think at that moment, that’s what came into my mind following the principles, helping the team to regain possession.
On getting back in the starting lineup…
I’m so happy to be back on the field obviously, and with the three points and four goals, so excited that I was able to help the team get maximum points today.
On getting back into rhythm in the starting lineup…
Yeah, I mean, it’s been very difficult for me. Previous weeks are very difficult for me. Because I got COVID. After I came back from COVID, I got injured. So I’ve been on and off, but I’ve been putting in some work in training, and also the team has been helping me out to come back and be strong and fully fit to play.