Pre-match Preview: CITY SC heads to KC with historic inaugural season on the line

St. Louis midfielder Indiana Vassilev and head coach Bradley Carnell weigh in ahead of CITY SC's second match against Sporting KC in the 2023 Audi MLS Playoffs.
Published: Nov. 4, 2023 at 4:17 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Is everyone okay after last weekend?

St. Louis CITY SC is about to set off for, potentially, the final match of this incredible inaugural season. The Western Conference No. 1 seed will head to Children’s Mercy Park to take on Sporting KC for the second match of Round One’s Best-of-3 series in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Last week’s loss was, for lack of a better term, disappointing. The excitement for playoff soccer coming to St. Louis was slowly and painfully met with shock and disbelief as CITY SC dropped its first playoff match in club history to rivals Sporting KC, 4-1.

Tim Parker scored St. Louis’ only goal of the game. He now has CITY SC’s first-ever goal in regular season and playoff contention. Now, St. Louis will head to its rival’s home turf, needing a win to keep this inaugural season alive. A win, at any capacity, will allow for a third match back in St. Louis to finish the series. Much can be said regarding CITY SC’s last performance, but it’s time to move on.

The eighth expansion team to make the MLS Playoffs and first to finish as the top team in its conference in an inaugural season, St. Louis was certainly a favorite heading into round one. But after finishing the year on a two-game losing streak, contrary to Sporting KC’s hot finish, this first round may not be as easy as some predicted it would be.

This match will mark the fifth time both teams square off this season. St. Louis CITY SC beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 in the overall record for the regular season. With their victory in the last match, Sporting KC won the first road match this season between both teams.

Overall, St. Louis has outscored Sporting KC by 10-7 across the four matches. CITY SC should still be considered the more dominant team, but this is soccer. Although this has been one of the best inaugural seasons in sports history, a young club’s weaknesses are easily exposed when the competition ramps up.

Sporting KC posted a 9-3-6 record at home in the regular season. In its last match at Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting KC beat San Jose Earthquakes 4-2 on penalties in the Wildcard Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. They’ve been in one of those pressure cooker moments already and came out on top.

This will not be a walk in the park, but if Bradley Carnell and co. can brush that pressure aside and just focus on taking this one game at a time, with aggregate score not playing a factor, the future still looks bright.

Ultimately, even if CITY SC does go home, St. Louis should still rejoice over what has transpired this season. And remember that it’s also just the beginning.

The match will kick off at 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 5 and will be broadcast on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app. For more information on St. Louis CITY SC, check out our guide to the 2023 season.

For an exclusive look at what fans can expect at CITYPARK on match-day, click here.