Baker's City Bites: 11-23-21
This past week may have been quiet off the field, but as the temperatures continue to drop, the St. Louis CITY SC Academy is heating up. Coming off a highlight win against St. Louis Scott Gallagher, the U-17 squad returned to their Creve Coeur home to defend their home winning streak against Minnesota United FC. The MLS Next season is broken up into essentially two halves. A Fall schedule and a Spring schedule. If the first season of MLS Next was any indication, we will see an MLS Next Cup tournament next May/June with a champion in each age group crowned next summer. This week, St. Louis CITY SC wrapped up their Fall schedule in the most dominating of manners, notching 8 goals and a clean sheet against Minnesota United.
I put up a twitter thread of goals and some of the highlights here. It was a chilly Saturday morning and Minnesota brought their younger Academy players to watch and attempt to create a loud environment, but it only took one hard strike from Nathan Ferguson's left foot to quiet the visitors less than 2 minutes in and CITY never let off the gas. Ferguson notched a hat trick and was joined on the goal scoring sheet by Anthony Faupel, Miguel Perez, Braydon Sellers, a Jacob Lusignan PK, and Aaron Heard. A full team effort was on display the full 90 with a lot of clinical passing, great settles, swarming defense, and a constant pressure that forced errors which led to counters and goals. The full match day report by St. Louis CITY SC can be found here.
This week also marked the first in-person match that the Academy Head Coach Andreas Schumacher was able to attend and lead the team in. Back at his initial announcement by St. Louis CITY SC, the club said that Schumacher was unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. While missing the in-person management for a large portion of the Fall season, Schumacher was joined this past week by BPTC Sports and Bernhard Peters in paying STL CITY SC a visit here in St. Louis. It has been almost a year and a half since Bernhard Peters and his team were first announced by CITY as Youth Academy Development Consultants (original press release by CITY is here) and this marked the first time Peters and his group were able to visit St. Louis and the staff in-person. CITY won't have to wait long to put any lessons learned and ideas generated into practice though. While the Fall season of MLS Next might have completed this past Saturday, St. Louis CITY SC's U-17 team will not have to wait until the Spring to take the field in meaningful competition.
St. Louis CITY SC will be participating in the MLS Next Winter Event in Los Angeles, CA beginning December 3rd. The club was able to confirm to me that they will be participating in this event and are listed in Group G of the event's U-17 schedule alongside the New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, and Chicago Fire. CITY has the following matches scheduled in their group stage:
December 3rd vs New York Red Bulls at 10am
December 4th vs Portland Timbers at 12pm
December 6th vs Chicago Fire at 12pm
28 of the league's 29 announced teams will have participants. Vancouver Whitecaps being the only club not listed. It is unclear at this time whether the games will be broadcast on YouTube or any other platform. It is also unclear whether a full-fledged tournament will be held with the winners of the group stages moving on to knockout stages and a champion of the Winter Event crowned.
Regardless of the scope of the tournament, this will be another exciting event to follow as our U-17 squad prepared to enter a likely transition period. I have written about the Lower Division League (LDL) squad that will begin play in March 2022 and be the bridge between the Academy and the MLS team that begins in 2023. There is little doubt that multiple players on our U-17 squad now are likely to move up to this LDL team. Similarly, there are no official MLS Next league matches until March 2022, so between our last game against Minnesota and this upcoming Winter Event in LA, this may be the last time the core of our U-17 team plays together at this age level. As discussed here and on podcasts like Flyover Footy and CITY SC Report's pod, we've posited that some of our U-17s like Aaron Heard, Josh Maher, Nathan Ferguson, Jacob Lusignan, Anthony Faupel, Nathan Yao, Fritz Volmer, Miguel Perez, and Caden Glover - among others, may be in line to take the next step and play for our LDL team. It is very exciting for family, friends, and anyone who has watched them perform so well for CITY over the last few months.
Finally, to everyone who has supported both the club and our coverage of the club through podcasts, social media, and our website, thank you so very much. It is always fun and a pleasure to continue to talk about this club. As the holidays approach, our coverage won't wane and I hope everyone enjoys the work we've been doing! Wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!
By Matt Baker