‘The fans brought it’ as St. Louis City SC wins first MLS game at CityPark
It's been a dream-come-true weekend for St. Louis soccer fans.
A massive block party around the city's new soccer stadium reached a crescendo with a St. Louis City SC victory in its first match at CityPark.
The Major League Soccer expansion team rallied with three unanswered goals to knock off Charlotte FC 3-1 on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 22,423.
Thousands more gathered outside the stadium to take in pregame activities, jam nearby streets and restaurants and form a long line outside the City SC team store across from CityPark.
The boisterous crowd inside the stadium kept the festivities going. Supporters chanted, waved flags, pounded drums and set off smoke in City SC's red, white and blue colors throughout the game. With every goal and at the final whistle, the crowd upped the noise several decibels.
"The fans brought it today," said City SC head coach Bradley Carnell.
"I think we have set the bar really high. There's not too many stadiums with this atmosphere, I can tell you that now,” he said.
Many fans who managed to get tickets for the historic game were still flying high after the referee’s final whistle.
"The atmosphere was absolutely incredible," said St. Louis resident Nathanial Hussey. "It was everything I could have possibly wanted it to be for my whole life waiting for MLS to come here."
The glowing reviews extended to MLS Commissioner Don Garber. He called City SC’s home opener spectacular.
"We always wanted a team in St. Louis,” Garber said at halftime. “I don't think we ever imagined it could be like this from start to finish."
Soccer supporters throughout the region have pushed for an MLS team for years.
“I think this is the perfect time," Garber said. "I think it probably wouldn’t have been like this if we tried earlier.”
Garber credits the Taylor family and the team’s ownership partners for stepping up to finally make MLS in St. Louis a reality.
"We needed the depth and focus on deep investment in the project. I don't think that could have happened in the early iteration of Major League Soccer," Garber said.
City SC President and CEO Carolyn Kindle, a member of the Taylor family who leads the ownership group, took to the pitch with other members in pregame ceremonies to officially mark the arrival of MLS in St. Louis. As they waved to the crowd, a section of fans in the upper-east corner of the stadium was rooting against a fairy-tale start at CityPark.
They flew in from North Carolina to support their team, Charlotte FC.
"First game for St. Louis, amazing stadium, inaugural match at home: We wanted to come and spoil the party," said Charlotte resident Matt Swift.
His hopes for the night got off to a strong start when Charlotte FC scored the first goal. But the good times for the North Carolina crew quickly evaporated when their team accidentally put the ball in its own net to tie the match. City SC then scored on a penalty kick before putting the game away in the second half with its third goal after a Charlotte defender made a serious miscue when he tried to pass the ball back to his goalie.
Major League Soccer started in 1996 with 10 teams; there are now 29. St. Louis became just the fourth expansion team in league history to win its first two matches. City SC beat Austin FC last weekend.
The team will try to maintain the momentum this Saturday in Portland.