St. Louis CITY SC: Back in first after Houston Dynamo FC shutout

The last time St. Louis CITY got knocked from the top of MLS Western Conference, it seemed like minutes before their return.

Those previous seemingly 10 minutes out of first place in MLS Western Conference happened after Seattle Sounders FC mastered the St. Louis CITY SC system. Then, Chicago Fire rang the St. Louis alarm bell.

The striker up front for St. Louis was out with an injury – Joao Klauss. And opponents of St. Louis had weeks before learned to stop preparing for CITY as another poorly organized expansion squad. So adjustments had to be made quickly.

With a few of the lesser competitive MLS squads on the schedule, CITY took advantage and started making the adjustments. Niko Gioacchini worked his way into the lone striker spot up front.

ST. LOUIS, MO – APRIL 1: Nicholas Gioacchini #11 of St. Louis CITY SC. (Photo by Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Then, after defeating Houston Dynamo FC on June 3, St. Louis fought back to first place in the Western Conference.

With the 3-0 shutout of Houston, St. Louis goalkeeper Roman Burki enjoyed his fourth clean sheet of the season. CITY SC also ensured they remain undefeated (7-0-1) in MLS when they score first. And their six home wins are second in MLS behind FC Cincinnati.

ST. LOUIS, MO – APRIL 1: Roman Burki #1 of St. Louis CITY SC. (Photo by Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Midfielder Eduard Lowen opened the scoring on a 9th-minute penalty. That’s the third consecutive match that Lowen started the scoring with a set-piece goal.

Lowen combined assists with center-back Lucas Bartlett as midfielder Tomas Ostrak scored in the 51st minute.

Then, when Giocchini scored on an 83rd-minute penalty, that meant he and Lowen had scored their fifth goal of the season. Additionally, Lowen has now scored in his third consecutive match, the longest CITY streak.

While the Dynamo isn’t far below the post-season line in the conference, CITY continued playing their game and still stayed up with the visitors in every statistical category. They achieved this despite the fact St. Louis doesn’t play a possession game.

Yet in this match, they finished just under 50% in possession. They never switched out of their preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

When the Dynamo couldn’t match up in that same formation, they tried switching to a 4-3-3. But still had no luck.

That’s because CITY played against Houston at the level of the best teams in their conference, including Seattle Sounders FC, who beat them. St. Louis knows they don’t hit the pitch anymore with the element of surprise – opponents expecting an expansion team that can compete.

In fact, St. Louis CITY SC has proved they’re not even an upstart expansion team anymore. They’re in MLS to win, right now.