Carnell arrived in St. Louis in January 2022 and has built a strong foundation in two years
St. Louis CITY SC and Head Coach Bradley Carnell agreed on a new contract extension. Carnell was a 2023 Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year Finalist in CITY SC’s inaugural season.
“We’re thrilled to be able to extend Bradley’s contract and keep him and his family here with us in St. Louis,” said Diego Gigliani, CITY SC’s President and GM. “His leadership helped us achieve record-breaking results on the pitch and quickly established CITY SC as a club serious about building a winning tradition for our fans. We look forward to our future with Bradley leading the squad.”
Arriving in St. Louis in January of 2022, Carnell wasted little time building a strong foundation. The Johannesburg, South African, native helped implement the high-pressing system with then-CITY2 Head Coach John Hackworth that pushed CITY2 to a 2022 MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference title in their first season. During the 2022 season, Carnell worked with captain Roman Bürki, João Klauss, Eduard Löwen, Joakim Nilsson, Tomáš Ostrák, Isak Jensen and Selmir Pidro to acclimate them to the team’s system ahead of the 2023 season.
“I want to say thank you to Lutz, Diego, Carolyn and the ownership group for believing in me to help lead this project and continue from a successful Year 1,” said Carnell. “I am excited to continue working with the STL group. My family and I love the St. Louis area and can’t wait to build on top of the strong foundation that was built.”
Carnell then took the high-pressing principles into the 2023 preseason and saw an immediate impact. CITY SC came out of the gates strong, tallying a 5-0-0 start to become the first MLS team to reach that feat. During the stretch, CITY SC had eight different goal scorers and two clean sheets. St. Louis followed by becoming the quickest expansion team to reach 25 points, doing so in 13 games.
“During his first full season as a head coach, Bradley quickly became one of the top coaches in the league,” said St. Louis CITY SC sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel. “When we brought Bradley in to be CITY SC’s first-ever coach, we knew his work ethic and unique blend of MLS and international experience would help us be competitive, but I can safely say no one predicted CITY SC to finish the regular season as the best team in the Western Conference. When it came to developing a team of players, many of whom had never played together before, to execute a very challenging playing philosophy and style, Bradley overdelivered every step of the way.”
Carnell and CITY SC finished 2023 as the Western Conference Regular-Season champions with a mark of 17-12-3. St. Louis became the first expansion team to win a conference regular-season title and record 17 wins (post-shootout era), while tying for the second most team points in a season with 56. Carnell applied the Designated Team concept to heart in 2023 as St. Louis had 16 different goal scorers in MLS, 28 players make an appearance, and 24 different players make a start. Along with being named a finalist for coach of the year, he played a key role in Bürki being named Goalkeeper of the Year and Burki and Tim Parker being named to MLS Best XI in 2023.
Carnell started as head coach for the University of Johannesburg men’s team followed by an assistant coaching role at Orlando Pirates before making his way to the MLS. In 2017, Carnell was an assistant coach for the New York Red Bulls and later named as the team’s interim head coach in September 2020. In that role he led the team to a sixth-place finish in the MLS Eastern Conference, becoming the only MLS interim head coach to guide his team into the post-season in 2020. Carnell returned to his role as the Red Bulls assistant coach for the 2021 season and helped the team qualify for the MLS playoffs. As an interim with the Red Bulls and full-time head coach with CITYS SC, Carnell accrued a 23-17-6 MLS regular-season record.