St. Louis CITY SC Academy Teams Put on Entertaining Performances for Home Fans
St. Louis CITY SC’s academy teams were back in action at home against Michigan Jaguars and Sporting KC. The U16 team slammed three goals past Michigan Jaguars to secure their seventh straight MLS NEXT win, while the U17s put on a spirited performance in the second half to earn a point against Sporting KC.
The U16s started the day looking to extend their perfect record but found it difficult in the early stages of the match as the Jaguars came out the gates flying. STL CITY were put on their heels by the opponent’s attacking intensity and were fortunate to not concede in the 10th minute after a Jaguars counterattack led to a shot ringing off the crossbar.
The team eventually found their rhythm and produced entertaining attacking moments that forced the Jaguars players to drop deeper into their defensive third. As a result of the opponent’s low block, STL CITY looked for other options to penetrate the defense and found success in the 33rd minute, when Thomas Pratl pinged a long ball over the Jaguars backline to Sam Leonard who calmly slotted home his shot – the only goal in the first half.
The second half started with substitutions from STL CITY as the team looked to maintain their intensity in search of another goal. Two minutes into the restart, Jack DiMaria, who had just come into the game, tucked a shot into the corner of the net to give STL CITY a two-goal advantage. The U16s continued to dictate the tempo of the game and later added another goal in the 80th minute through Nolan Burcke who got on the end of a cross from Gavin Netzel. With the final whistle approaching, STL CITY looked to see out the game with another clean sheet but were caught off guard in the 90th minute when the Jaguars added the final goal of the game.
“I thought we started the game a little slower today,” said David Critchley, St. Louis CITY SC Academy Assistant Coach. “But once we found our feet, we did a great job of putting pressure on Michigan’s defense. The lads have shown a lot of maturity and focus throughout the season and I’m really happy to see them continue their win streak.”
The U17s started their match like a team on a mission, as they sought redemption following their defeat when the two teams met earlier in the season. The boys dominated possession, and their silky passing and counter pressing allowed them to create decent chances in the opening minutes of the game.
After winning a throw-in deep in their half, Sporting KC’s left back threw the ball into the box to his center back who mistakenly handled the ball, forcing the referee to award a penalty to STL CITY. Jacob Lusignan took the penalty kick, but his shot was forced wide by the goalkeeper to keep the game tied after 10 minutes.
Following the penalty, Sporting KC found their groove and ramped up the pressure on STL CITY’s backline. Following an extended period of possession, they eventually broke through the defense in the 25th minute and took the lead off a brilliant strike. STL CITY searched for the equalizer and came close with a few half chances but could not find a goal to alter the score line heading into halftime.
At the start of the second half, chances were at a premium for both sides, as Sporting KC took a more compact defensive shape to protect their lead. While STL CITY had most of the ball, their possession did not translate to goalscoring opportunities. Close to the 60th minute, STL CITY made a few tactical changes and suddenly the game turned on its head. The boys launched attack after attack, forcing numerous saves from the opponent’s goalkeeper. They eventually overpowered Sporting KC in the 65th minute when Aaron Heard dribbled past a defender before sliding a cross into Caden Glover who tied the game for STL CITY.
Following the equalizer, it was clear the momentum was with STL CITY as they hunted for the go-ahead goal. Sporting KC were on their heels with STL CITY’s high press forcing the game to be played in the Sporting KC half. Following a lovely spell of possession in the 78th minute, Heard found Miguel Perez in space in midfield but his shot rattled the crossbar before going over for a goal kick. STL CITY had another glorious chance in stoppage time when Heard found himself 1v1 in the box. He slammed a shot at the near post, but the goalkeeper, who had been a wall all game, ensured that his team walked away with a point from the match.
“The boys had an unbelievable second half performance,” explained Lutz Pfannenstiel, St. Louis CITY SC Sporting Director. “I was impressed with the passion and grit they showed to fight their way back into the game. For me, this is the standard for our club, and we look forward to all our players bringing that same energy and high intensity to every game.”
MATCHDAY NOTES – STARTING XI
vs Michigan Jaguars
Tyson Pearce, Thomas Pratl, Zach Stanton, Blas Urbano, Nathan Harmon, Sam Leonard, Eddie Stewart, Omar Cilic, Zach Van Hee, Jackson Delkus, Parker Brooks
vs Sporting KC
Nolan McGuire, Josh Maher, Jacob Lusignan, Aaron Heard, Brian Franco, Miguel Perez, Nathan Yao, Fritz Volmar, Anthony Faupel, Nathan Ferguson, Nick Bishop