Behind Enemy Lines: St. Louis CITY SC 🔎
St. Louis has looked good at times since their early Leagues Cup exit.
FC Dallas is back in action with another double-game week as they start off with their first trip to Missouri to take on St. Louis CITY SC.
The expansion darlings continue to lead the MLS Western Conference standings but have stumbled a bit in recent weeks, including an early exit from the Leagues Cup in the group stage phase.
Let’s dive into Wednesday’s opponent to see how FC Dallas can manage to pull an upset on the road and return to Frisco with some points.
Key Player: Niko Gioacchini
While Joao Klauss was out injured for most of the late spring and early summer, Gioacchini emerged as a go-to candidate for St. Louis in the attack. He’s scored ten goals this season, and eight of those have come at home.
Key Matchup: Nkosi Tafari vs Gioacchini
We know what Kos can do in the Dallas attack when the club needs him for late-game situations, but his defending is really what has to be the focal point in St. Louis. We know CITY will press high in this match and cause chaos in the back for Tafari. and likely Sebastian Ibeagha. Clogging up the channels and passing lanes to Gioacchini or Klauss will be key for FC Dallas to escape this match with any points.
The first meeting took a while: I think we all recall the first meeting between these two squads this year. FC Dallas struggled in the opening 55 minutes before a weather delay saw the game continue a month later. FCD pulled out two goals midway through the restart to claim all three points.
Strong at home: St. Louis City SC has won nine of its first 13 home MLS matches (D1 L3), winning all nine times in which its scored multiple goals at CITYPARK, including eight matches scoring three or more. No other MLS team has more than six home matches with at least three goals this season.
Quick to 50: St. Louis City SC scored its 50th goal in its 25th match, the fastest any expansion team has reached 50 goals in league history.
First goal record: We always say scoring first matters in this game, but St. Louis owns a 12-0-2 record when scoring first. Yeah, it is vital for them.
Suspended: Jake Nerwinski
Suspended on next yellow card: Lucas Bartlett
Questionable: Niko Gioacchini (shoulder)
Bradley Carnell tends to run a 4-4-2 type formation but did finish the Orlando match running a 4-3-3 now that Joao Klauss is healthy again.
Burki; Nelson, Hiebert, Parker, Yaro; Stroud, Perez, Vassilev, Alm; Lowen, Gioacchini
Keys To Three Points over St. Louis
Avoid stupid mistakes - The high press can cause a lot of hurt for a defense if you play slow and sloppy. FC Dallas struggled to build out of the back last weekend against Austin, and St. Louis will be even more relentless in their press.
Find the space out wide - As good as St. Louis has been this season at home, they are vulnerable at times on the wings. If FC Dallas can get Alan Velasco involved early on in this one from the middle of the field and find ways to get him to spring counterattacks when St. Louis turns the ball over, then the chances will be there. We saw when FC Dallas scored two goals in the restarted May game at home how effective the wing play can be against them.
Smart subs - The one thing Nico Estevez has done well recently (including in the Leagues Cup) is using his bench at the right times. Last weekend against Austin, it was bringing on Dante Sealy late in the match or Eugene Ansah around the 60-minute mark to provide a spark. The Dallas bench is deep again, and it is time to use them.
Fun fact: Only three previous teams reached the 50-goal mark in their expansion season: Atlanta United (70) in 2017, Los Angeles FC (68) in 2018 and Chicago (62) in 1998.