St. Louis CITY SC locked in their post-season lineup, using it for a three-goal advantage against Sporting Kansas City recently.
St. Louis CITY striker Joao Klauss came back from his injury forcefully in this match with fellow forward Sam Adeniran. They combined with midfielder Jared Stroud for a 4-1 win over Sporting Kansas City.
Head coach Bradley Carnell emphasized that this isn’t the result of one MLS season’s work. The team design began nearly two years earlier. The result of that planning becomes evident in their first three goals coming during a seven-minute span.
Carnell said Sporting Kansas City couldn’t find a way to reset their play during this barrage. This was because of CITY’s first weapon, which is transition.
Defensively, whenever CITY saw that Kansas City had a moment of disorganization, they would frequently counter-press by swarming to the ball to recover possession.
Offensively, once CITY gained possession, they would reshape and go on the attack immediately.
The transition tool worked so well for St. Louis that Carnell said the players were miffed long after the match. that’s because Sporting forward William Agada scored with a header off Daniel Salloi’s cross in the final stoppage time.
CITY goalkeeper Roman Burki never looked unhappier at any time in his career.
Certainly, for this team at this time, the game strategy developed by Carnell and his coaches has proved brilliant. Yet, it’s also proved that the strategy doesn’t play itself.
In the next match at Vancouver Whitecaps FC, they left Klauss and Burki on the bench. The result was a 3-0 shutout of St. Louis.
St. Louis CITY remains the No. 1 conference seed. Yet they dramatically proved under what conditions their transition strategy doesn’t work. It’s also proved simply, that the team needs consistent and strong leadership on the pitch.
As Carnell observed after the loss, it looked as if CITY never got into the game.
Goalkeeper Ben Lundt previously started in the St. Louis Leagues Cup match against Columbus, and two Open Cup matches, opposing Union Omaha and Chicago Fire FC.
In this first MLS start, Lundt did make four saves. But there were no answers on offense from St. Louis. CITY took only six shots, with two on goal.
Certainly, during the post-season competition, these players can perform competently without Klauss or Burki. But they perform best with the two.
If unfortunately Klauss or Burki are lost for a match, St. Louis players will have to perform better against teams like Vancouver. The St. Louis CITY strategy won’t transition itself.