City SC keeps its red-hot start going with a 3-0 win to go 4-0 on the season
It was 25 degrees on Saturday night at CityPark, with a wind chill barely into double digits. It’s going to take more than that to cool down St. Louis City SC.
City SC went where no other Major League expansion team has gone, beating San Jose 3-0 to improve to 4-0 to start its young life. No MLS expansion team has ever started 4-0, and four weeks into the season, City SC is the only team to have gotten all possible points.
The team also achieved something is has been seeking all season, a shutout, and for the first time this season, didn’t have to come from behind to win. Goalie Roman Burki was tested a couple of times including a save on a shot from close range in the 61st minute, when San Jose threatened to get back in the game. City SC took a 2-0 lead into the half behind goals by both of its strikers, first by Niko Gioacchini, then by Klauss just before halftime, and then second half sub Tomas Ostrak scored in the 68th minute.
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City SC has scored three goals in three of its four games, and two in the other, and is tied for the league lead in goals. It matches the second-longest win streak by an expansion team since the end of league’s shootout era, when games couldn’t end in ties.
Gioacchini scored in the 34th minute, at the end of a long buildup that started deep in the City SC end and finished with left back John Nelson playing a ball into the box that though the San Jose defense and Gioacchini took a touch to control it and then another as he fought off a San Jose defender to poke in for the 1-0 lead. It was the first MLS goal for Gioacchini.
In the third minute of first-half stoppage time, City SC extended its lead. Another buildup led to Klauss getting the ball just past midfield. He tried to pass it forward, but it was broken up by the San Jose defense. But Klauss kept going, bulldozing his way through San Jose defenders, won the ball back, and drove it in from nine yards out, putting it between goalie JT Marcinkowski’s legs. It was the third goal of the season for Klauss, who has scored in all but one of City SC’s games and has a goal or an assist in every game.
Ostrak got his first goal of the season after a free kick by Eduard Lowen that led to three shots. A steal by Eduard Lowen kept the play alive and Ostrak had the ball at the top of the box, moved a few steps to his left to get the angle he wanted, and knocked it home. By the end of the game, City SC was threatening to score again and again.
City SC heads to Utah next Saturday to face Real Salt Lake with a chance to go 5-0.
City SC was without center back Tim Parker, who suffered a groin injury in practice on Wednesday and was considered questionable for the game. Lucas Bartlett, who came into camp as a trialist and signed with the team two weeks ago, moved into the lineup in Parker’s spot.
There was one other change to the lineup, as coach Bradley Carnell went with a two-striker formation and started Gioacchini, which bumped Miguel Perez out of the starting 11. Perez came on in the 65th minute
Njabulo Blom missed his second straight game with an unspecified illness, though the coach of the South African national team told a South African publication that Blom told him he had COVID. Blom’s absence has touched off a disagreement between the South African federation and City SC after South Africa called Blom in for two upcoming qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations. Blom was picked for the team even though he hasn’t practiced since March 8, complained that the team was keeping him from traveling, in violation of FIFA rules. City SC’s stance is that Blom, considering the time he has missed, is not up to making the long trip.
Aziel Jackson got in his first game of the season, coming on as a late sub.
While the game was a sellout, the extreme cold weather left a few seats empty. That didn’t stop the fans who showed up from bringing the exuberance they brought in the first game despite the brutally cold weather.
Photos: St. Louis City SC beats San Jose Earthquakes to stay undefeated