With a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC, St. Louis CITY SC moves closer to breaking all MLS expansion franchise records. They just added a few more.
The same match approach that gave St. Louis CITY SC its previous shutout worked again in a 1-0 road win over Toronto FC. CITY head coach Bradley Carnell has only used the same starting lineup twice this season.
Except for last-place Inter Miami CF, the home team has sunk as low as it can in the MLS Eastern Conference. Given that conference record, Toronto has little chance against any effective game plan executed by a team of dedicated players.
The victory keeps the gap between first-place St. Louis and Seattle Sounders FC at three points.
The franchise’s 12th MLS victory is tied for the fifth-most for an expansion team, after only Seattle, Orlando City, and Montreal. CITY is still unbeaten when scoring first and is the only MLS team with at least five home victories and five road victories.
CITY has also amassed the most points (38) by an expansion team after 21 regular season matches in MLS history. They recently surpassed the Chicago Fire’s 1998 total of 37 points.
The only goal of the game came in the 50th minute, when midfielder Aziel Jackson converted a ball from Akil Watts. It was Jackson’s and Watts’ first MLS goal and assist, respectively.
Jackson and Watts started the last three games for St. Louis and contributed to the team’s victory in each of them. With this win, goalkeeper Roman Burki now has his sixth clean sheet of the season and his 150th in his professional career.
While the scoreless first half made it appear as if St. Louis was just practicing with Toronto, Carnell noted that was not the case.
During the post-game discussion, he stated that the players had effectively picked up several balls during the opening 45 minutes but then failed to get the transition moments they needed.
However, the players did adhere to one of the pre-game principles. Good teams grind out results, according to this philosophy. Carnell admitted that Toronto played well enough in the first half to make his team’s life difficult.
Despite their low standing in their conference, the players proved to be a difficult opponent, according to Carnell. However, as a solid team, St. Louis held a nil-nil lead until halftime.
As a result, CITY had to make changes.
Watts recognized one of the modifications that applied to him. Watts admitted to giving Toronto winger Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty too much space in the first half. His second-half strategy included not allowing the opponent to touch the ball and pressing him back.
The modification was successful.
They fixed their mistakes. As a result, the second half was completely dominated. And a victory.
However, as St. Louis CITY SC concludes the rest of the season, they will need to find that score in the first half. The postseason is at stake.