MLS margins: St. Louis feeling side effects of league parity


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Roman Burki I’m used to winning Borussia DortmundGerman power and perennials Champions League A participant for whom he was the starting goalkeeper from 2015-2021.

Porky is also used to losing: the competitor Bayern Munich claimed the Bundesliga title in each of his six seasons with the BVB, with Dortmund finishing second or third in five of them. Those conflicting experiences came in handy during the 32-year-old’s former Swiss national team debut season football League latest club, City of Saint Louis.

After a record breaking five straight wins to start life in MLS, the expansion Darlings have since returned to Earth. They’ve now won just one of their last seven matches, and they’re ecstatic Sporting Kansas City Coming to town on Saturday (9:30 p.m. ET, FS1/FOX Deportes). Not that Porky is complaining.

“In Germany, two or maybe three teams have a chance of winning the title,” he said in an interview with FOX Sports this week. “Here you can finish ninth and still win the league. Of course some teams are better or have a bit more playoff experience, but here it’s more complicated. That’s something I had to learn.”

Saturday’s competition will provide another lesson. After failing to win any of their first 10 league games in 2023, SKC has moved on to 2W-0L-1T since then, including a win in Seattle and Wednesday’s draw at LAFC – two of the toughest away matches in MLS. It is a reminder of how quickly fortunes can change in a competition designed to give each team every possible chance of success.

“Parity in the league is created for that,” City boss Bradley Carnell told Fox Sports. “How do teams cope when the weather gets hotter? How do they handle travel? Changing time zones, salary caps—all of this is unique to MLS.

“This is one of the most challenging leagues in the world in my opinion,” he added. “It’s really hard to get your way through the season.”

That’s part of the reason St. Louis’ historic start was so surprising, even inside its locker room. Carnell, ex New York Red Bulls Helpful, he didn’t set expectations too high on purpose.

“Now all of a sudden, the internal and external expectations have changed,” he said. “We went from not having a chance to being a world-class player and an automatic qualifier. As a group, we’ve had to navigate this whirlwind of emotions.”

St. Louis players and fans still take it. Fans in the epicenter of American soccer have waited decades to finally get an MLS team, and they were a big part of the club’s early successes as the results came out.

St. Louis set a US Open Cup third-round attendance record last month, drawing more than 22,000 fans to its sparkling new City Park on Tuesday night. Tickets for MLS games have been so scarce that loads of fans made the 10-hour round trip to Chicago for a 1-0 loss last weekend, forcing the Fire to expand their away section for the game at Soldier Field.

“Even recently, when the results weren’t so good, they were still pushing us and trying to help us,” Bourque said of the St. Louis followers. This was also a new experience for the veteran.

“They are more forgiving than the fans in Dortmund,” he said.



Despite the first full slate of MLS fixtures on Wednesday this year, the biggest news of the week hit the field with the announcement on Thursday that San Diego will It became the league’s 30th franchise. The as-yet-unnamed club will begin play in 2025 at the 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium, home of the NWSL San Diego Wave. former LAFC President Tom Penn is the new club’s CEO.

While the revelation was expected, it was still somewhat embarrassing. The MLS Player of the Year award is named after league legend Landon Donovan, who happens to be the co-founder and former head coach of Division II San Diego Loyal. So far, Donovan and Loyal have nothing to do with the expansion side, which is majority owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour.

While Loyal issued a statement last month insisting the USL Championship team isn’t “going anywhere,” there’s still plenty of time for the two entities to come to an agreement to join forces and get Donovan on board. It would be a shame if that didn’t happen.


LAFC topped the overall standings for almost the entire season last year. In 2023, there seems to be a new leader every week.

by biting CF Montreal Four straight MLS midweek games, Cincinnati is back in the driver’s seat for the Supporters’ Shield. The FCC jumped New England RevolutionThat fell 2-1 Wed time Inter Miami.

3. Araujo leaves Atlanta United

A couple of weeks ago, we wondered when the Five Stripes would sell the Argentina World Cup-winning midfielder Thiago Almada to One of many European suitors. Will Atlanta get cash this summer on their MLS Cup hopes or wait, preferably in their view, until the postseason?

This question remains unanswered. But this week, Atlanta agreed to release another outstanding South American striker – a Brazilian Louise Araujo – He left next month. Bought from the French club night For $10 million in 2021, the 26-year-old winger will move to Flamingo in his home country in late June for an undisclosed fee.

The departure of Araujo, who opened the scoring for Atlanta in Wednesday’s 4-0 victory over the Rapids that ended a three-game losing streak, opens up a definite spot for a player that Five Stripes vice president and head coach Carlos Bocanegra will certainly try to fill when MLS’ secondary transfer window opens in July.

4. Rivalry Weeks

Adding 11 new teams — not counting San Diego — since 2015, MLS has expanded to the point where it’s impossible to cram all of its home derbies into one. So, after a bunch of rivalry games in Week 13, there are several more games for Saturday.

The all-out Ohio battle between Cincinnati and Columbus is perhaps the most compelling of the neutrals. However, it is just one of four with bragging rights within the state at stake. The others are the city of Miami Orlando, FC DallasHouston Dynamo and LAFC-San Jose Earthquakes.

5. An assist for Gio Reina

When St. Louis athletic director Lutz Pfannenstiel contacted Bürki’s agent to see if the vet might be willing to leave Europe for MLS, Bürki took a beeline for his then teammate. Geo Rinathrough which he came New York City F.C Academy before turning professional with Dortmund.

“He only had good words for this league,” said Burkie of Reyna. Same for the stream Chicago fire straight ahead Xherdan Shakeri, Burki’s Swiss teammate at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups. Once the deal was complete, another old friend called. “Christian Pulisic I’ve been keeping in touch,” said Bourque, who made his debut a few months before the US men’s national team shone. “He texted to say how happy he was for me when I went to MLS.”

Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Prior to joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports, and has covered the United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cup tournaments. Follow him on Twitter at @employee.

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