St. Louis City SC look to rediscover their strong early season form when they host Sporting Kansas City Saturday in the first meeting of what could be a new rivalry.
St. Louis (6-4-1, 19 points) had a historic start to its expansion MLS season, matching the 2009 Seattle Sounders as the only such side to win their first three games in the league — with St. Louis stretching its season-opening streak to five.
But St. Louis has lost four out of six since that point, going 1-4-1. Leading scorer Joao Klauss has missed the last two of those with a quadriceps strain. And the expansion squad fell short in a 1-0 defeat to the Chicago Fire in its first meeting with another potential rival last weekend.
If Saturday’s hosts have an advantage, it’s that they were idle on Wednesday night while Sporting Kansas City traveled to LAFC. Klauss has also been upgraded to questionable on the team’s injury report.
With the fuss surrounding the first game against its cross-state foes, St. Louis manager Bradley Carnell has tried to keep the week as normal as possible.
“We don’t want to add any extra hype or pressure or anything on our players because enough (is) on our plate right now,” he said. “But definitely deep down in our hearts, we know what this means.”
Sporting Kansas City’s early season has gone exactly in reverse to that of St. Louis.
Manager Peter Vermes’ squad was the last in MLS to secure its first victory. But part of that was about health, as SKC (2-7-4, 10 points) began without three influential attackers — striker Alan Pulido, winger Johnny Russell and central midfielder Gadi Kinda.
It was only after Pulido and Kinda finally got to full fitness in 2023 after serious injuries that kept them out all of last season that Kansas City found some momentum.
Now they’re unbeaten in their last three (2-0-1), including an impressive 1-1 draw Wednesday night at defending MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield champions LAFC.
“Their mentality is in a really good place,” Vermes said of his players after that game. “They’re building confidence week after week. This was a massive point and a massive performance against a really, really good team.”
–Field Level Media
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