St. Louis City SC produced one of the most stunning results an expansion team has ever achieved, opening its first season with a 3-2 at Austin FC, the 2022 Western Conference runner-up.
The first-year team took the lead on a goal by defender Tim Parker -- just his third MLS goal in 218 games -- but seemed to be headed to a defeat when Sebastian Driussi and Jon Gallagher scored to put Austin FC ahead 2-1.
But the match turned in St. Louis City's favor six minutes after Gallagher's goal. Austin FC defender Kipp Keller played a back pass straight to a familiar face. Jared Stroud spent the last two seasons in Austin. Only problem is, he was traded to St. Louis City after the 2022 season and took advantage of Keller's gaffe to equalize.
In the 88th minute, St. Louis City won the game when Niko Gioacchini’s pass found a streaking Joao Klauss, and Brazilian DP turned the unfortunate Keller inside out and slotted the ball past keeper Brad Stuver with the outside of his foot.
St. Louis City coach Bradley Carnell said his players deserved the win, quoting a fellow South African.
"I think Gary Player said, "The harder I work, the luckier I get," and I think that's just what the group did tonight," said Carnell, who was born and raised in South Africa and spent 13 seasons in Germany. "The harder they worked, the more they came out of their shells; the more they got used to the tempo of the game; the more they got used to what's going on."
St. Louis City finished with an 18-12 edge in shots (9-2 in shots on target).
"I don't know how many teams come to Q2 Stadium and get nine shots off on frame," Carnell added, "and, you know, credit to the group."
Klauss was acquired last March on a transfer from German club Hoffenheim and had four goals and three assists for St. Louis City 2 in MLS Next Pro.
"This is perfect game to grow the team, to grow the mentality of the players," the 25-year-old forward said. "To show that we have to believe to the last minute. This is soccer and everything can happen."
Photo: David Buono/Icon Sportswire