St. Louis City underway with new system

In+2019%2C+it+was+announced+that+St.+Louis+would+receive+an+MLS+team.+Now+that+the+team+will+start+playing+soon%2C+St.+Louisans+are+getting+excited+for+the+new+team%2C+%E2%80%9CSeeing+the+construction+of+the+building+%2C+it+looks+great.+The+location+is+great%2C+it%E2%80%99s+unique%2C+and+the+atmosphere+is+amazing%2C%E2%80%9C+said+senior+Micah+Frank%2C+an+aspiring+architect+and+varsity+soccer+player.

In 2019, it was announced that St. Louis would receive an MLS team. Now that the team will start playing soon, St. Louisans are getting excited for the new team, “Seeing the construction of the building , it looks great. The location is great, it’s unique, and the atmosphere is amazing,“ said senior Micah Frank, an aspiring architect and varsity soccer player.

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On April 10, St. Louis City 2, a semi-pro soccer team, played at home at Hermann Stadium while construction is taking place at Union Station for the new Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, half of a mile away.

City 2’s last game at home versus Tacoma Defiance was a thriller. It remained tied 1-1 for the majority of the game. Eventually, St. Louis took the lead 4-1. While in the lead, the head coach decided to put in substitutes, and the Defiance caught up 4-3, but couldn’t catch up in time before the final whistle.

“It was a great game. I’ve been to around three [games] so far, and so far that was the most exciting one. The goals were great, especially the third one which I believe we scored off of a header,” said senior varsity soccer player Micah Frank.

Considering they are a semi-pro team, St. Louis City 2 runs a medley of professional schemes that are intended to prepare its players for MLS.

“They do a high Jurgen Press. It’s where the team all presses really high for a certain period of time until the ball is won back,” said Frank.

With 4 amateur and semi-pro teams, St. Louis soccer is thriving while fans eagerly await the arrival of the first MLS team in St. Louis.

“The games are going to be great. I imagine a similar atmosphere as a Blues or Cardinals game, but with more passionate fans that care about the team just as much as the city,” said sophomore varsity soccer player Henry Reeves.

St. Louis has seen a major rise in soccer’s popularity since they received an MLS team. In 2024, the St. Louis City Soccer Club will begin competing in St. Louis.

“Seeing the construction of the building…it looks great. The location is great; it’s unique and the atmosphere is amazing,” said Frank, who will be majoring in Architecture at Kansas University.

With a rise in youth soccer and MLS’s popularity, America has been changing the soccer pyramid to be more direct. Now, players can join amature and semi-pro teams before joining an MLS team as opposed to foreign players coming straight to MLS.

In 2022, MLS established a three-step system to get to MLS. It starts with youth divisions called MLS NXT. Then, it progressed to Semi-Pro with MLS NXT Pro which consists of feeder teams as well as independent pro clubs. Finally, players may join MLS.

St. Louis City 2 has been established in the MLS NXT Pro division. They’ve had games at Creve Coeur Soccer Park where everyone can view for free and SLU where fans have to purchase tickets.

“In high school, my friends and I would bike to train everyday, go to the local store, and then play pick up or FIFA at home. Soccer was everything. We had and still have pick up games everywhere you turn. There are tons in Forest Park, Kirkwood, downtown at SLU, every Sunday at Vetta, and here at North,” said JV soccer coach Micheal Randels.

Currently, the new addition of the MLS team has significantly altered the soccer culture in St. Louis too, especially for the youth.

“It’s crazy. It really is crazy. I think that there are a lot of high quality clubs in the area that have actually been high quality for many, many years. When you put this new academy system here in place, it’s going to shake up all the clubs, it’s going to shake up all the teams,” said physical education teacher Jody Chambers.

With City 2 joining big clubs such as Sporting STL, Lou Fusz, and Scott Gallagher, soccer projects continue to grow.

“This academy [MLS NXT feeder] is taking over everything. I can’t go five minutes without someone bringing it up in a soccer-based conversation. It’s something that I wish I had as a kid growing up in St. Louis,” said Randels.