St. Louis City SC takes the MLS pitch after just one more year. Preparations have gone well. But supporters will face a too-familiar shock.
Like all teams in the most recent slate of MLS expansion sides, St. Louis City SC has jumped through all the required hoops.
That includes assembling an impressive collection of investors, corporate sponsors, and community relationships. Most importantly – the organization has embarked on a dazzling project to build a 22,000-seat-plus downtown stadium with infrastructure.
Supporters began cheering in August 2019 when MLS approved the St. Louis expansion bid. The final decision keyed on the group’s plans and commitments for a downtown stadium.
The stadium will happen, along with the infrastructure and sponsors. That’s what the bid award demanded. The cheering will continue until whichever team takes the pitch enters a prolonged streak without a win.
By late August 2019 when the award was secure, passing references came out obliquely targeting expectations of a competitive squad.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber acknowledged a solid soccer culture in St. Louis. That suggests that after the stadium pitch is inspected and the plumbing gets the ok, the organization should have made a competent effort to secure capable player personnel.
But the players don’t get any ink in contracts and awards, as do the buildings.
So what about the team and players? Pending hiring a head coach, that piece is still an afterthought.
The club hired the first chief experience officer in MLS, Matt Sebek. This CXO job will oversee brand marketing, technology, and digital imaging aimed at fans. It’s described as a position developed in retail, restaurants, and digital-based businesses like Facebook and Netflix.
St. Louis City SC wants to ensure the organization keeps up with how they’re moving through digital channels. But that’s not moving any balls into the attacking half of the field.
They’ve also hired Lutz Pfannenstiel as sporting director. This is now getting closer to finding out what talent St. Louis will get. He’s about to secure the club’s first head coach. This will kick start the club into an area that all supporters can appreciate.
The new sporting director’s first observation was the strong soccer culture in St. Louis – he described it as DNA – and that he’s scouting the US first for head coach candidates.
While his playing experience is primarily in Europe, Pfannenstiel said MLS has developed enough already that St. Louis City doesn’t have to rely primarily on older big names for gametime leadership. He’ll favor a coach who has a similar mindset.
Then St. Louis City SC supporters will start seeing the roster fill up with what the sporting director believes will be some exciting, young, and hungry players. That should give the fans confidence.
They’ll have an outstanding soccer palace downtown to witness top-tier U.S. football. And they’ll win some of their first season’s games, to boot.