CITY's Future - Now Playing 3/15/22
We are continuing our regular look at how our CITY signings and rumored signings are performing before they arrive in St. Louis later this year. Below are our players classified into either confirmed or rumored signings. As of March 15th, 2022 that list includes Josh Yaro, Selmir Pidro, Tomáš Ostrák, and João Klauss. Joaqim Nilsson is rumored to be agreed upon in principle, but no announcement has been made and in somewhat breaking news as of late Monday night, 3/14, Manuel Verth from Transfermarkt is reporting that STL CITY SC has agreed in principle with Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper, Roman Bürki. Full report can be found here and below is a much deeper look at Bürki.
Josh Yaro - 5'11. 161 lbs. 27 yrs old. Center back
Yaro was drafted 2nd overall by the Philadelphia Union in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft and has played for Bethlehem Steel, San Antonio FC, and San Diego Loyal before joining St. Louis CITY SC on a free transfer. Yaro has the distinction of being the first player officially signed by CITY SC and to play for CITY2. Before moving to the first team, Yaro has been named captain of the St. Louis CITY 2 team for 2022.
3/15/22 Update: This past week, Yaro continued to help CITY2 develop during their preseason. They played St. Louis University in a friendly on Thursday March 10. After falling behind early, CITY2 orchestrated their most impressive comeback win of the preseason with a go ahead goal in the dying minutes of stoppage to take the win, 3-2. Yaro started and wore the captain's armband once again. He appeared to go the distance and play the full 90, indicating both form and endurance are getting where they need to be to kick off the season on March 25.
Selmir Pidro - 5'10. 170 lbs. 24 yrs old. Left back
The first officially announced player for St. Louis CITY SC, Pidro is a Bosnian international, currently with Bosnian top flight club FK Sarajevo. Pidro has been with FK Sarajevo since early 2014 in their youth academy and as of March 8th, has 81 appearances in all competitions for FK Sarajevo dating back to 2018. Pidro has 2 caps for the Bosnian national team, including most recently against the USMNT in a friendly in December 2021. Pidro comes to St. Louis CITY SC this July for a reported transfer fee of $380,000.
3/15/22 Update: Pidro started and played another full 90 minutes for FK Sarajevo against Borac Banja Luka in the Bosnian Premijer Liga. FK Sarajevo came away with a 1 -1 tie.
Tomáš Ostrák - 5'7. 165 lbs. 22 yrs old. Attacking Midfielder
A Czech Republic youth international, Ostrák joined the Academy of 1. FC Köln in the German Bundesliga in 2016. He had loan spells with TSV Hartberg in the Austrian Bundesliga and MFK Karviná in the Czech Republic before being recalled by 1. FC Köln in July 2021. Ostrák has also seen time with the Czech youth national teams at the U21 (7 caps), U20 (2 caps), U19 (5 caps), U18 (3 caps), and U17 (7 caps) levels. Ostrák will join St. Louis CITY SC this July on a free transfer.
3/15/22 Update: While Ostrák has not featured for 1. FC Köln's first team since 2/11/22, he saw action this past weekend for Köln's 2 team (U21s). It was his 2nd appearance in the past month for this side, the most recent being on 2/23/22. Ostrák started at attacking mid and played 66 minutes against Wegberg-Beeck in the Regionalliga West league. Ostrák had a notable role as he led off the scoring for Köln 2 in the 27th minute. Video of the goal can be found here. Based on previous comments from Köln's manager and their seeming frustration at his decision to leave for St. Louis CITY SC, Ostrák may find himself out of favor with the first team and see additional minutes for their U21 side in the waning months of the season, which will be interesting to track.
João Klauss - 6'3. 185 lbs. 25 yrs old. Center Forward/Striker
Klauss is the first Designated Player signed by CITY and hails from Brazil. Lutz Pfanennstiel was the man who brought Klauss from Brazil to Germany as a 19-year old, and signed him to his first professional contract with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim II, the reserve team of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim of the German Bundesliga. Klauss has also had multiple loans to clubs such as HJK Helsinki of the Finnish top league, Linzer ASK (LASK) of the Austrian top flight, and Jupiler Pro league (Belgian top flight) clubs Standard and currently with Sint-Truidense V.V. (STVV). Klauss has scored 64 goals in 192 competitions since turning pro. As an opportunity for consistency in his continued growth, Klauss signed a 3 ½ year contract with an option for another and will join St. Louis CITY SC this July for a reported $3m transfer fee.
3/15/22 Update: Klauss saw action for Sint-Truidense VV against KRC Genk in the Jupiler Pro League on 3/13/22. Though he did not start, Klauss entered the match in the 53rd minute and played a CF position in a 5-3-2 formation for STVV. Klauss did not feature in the scoreline but did have 2 shots on goal as STVV went on to win the match, 1-0.
Joakim Nilsson - 6'1. 172 lbs. 28 yrs old. Center back
Nilsson's playing career has seen him spend significant time in Sweden, spending a year with Swedish third division side IF Älgarna in 2009-2010, 2011-2016 with GIF Sundsvall bouncing between the Swedish first/second division side and three years from 2016-2019 with IF Elfsborg Boras in the first division. In 2019, Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga paid $440k in transfer fees for Nilsson's services. He is a perennial starter for Bielefeld, having logged 49 matches in the German Bundesliga.
3/15/22 Update: Nilsson did not see action this past weekend against Borussia Dortmund due to COVID protocols. It was the first match he has missed for any reason in almost 5 months.
Roman Bürki - 6'4. 187 lbs. 31 yrs old. Goalkeeper
Bürki began his professional career at the age of 17 with Swiss club BSC Young Boys and was out on multiple loans until he found a new home with Grasshopper Club Zürich. Bürki began that stint on loan in 2011, but was eventually sold in 2013. Bürki had a brief period with SC Freiburg in 2014-2015 before moving to Borussia Dortmund in 2015. In both his stay with Grasshopper and Freiburg, Bürki started out as a backup and quickly took over the starting role.
Bürki was the primary goalkeeper for the European giant, BVB from 2015-2021, but in this most recent season has fallen to the #2 spot on the depth chart. Bürki is a former Swiss international with experience in both World Cup Qualifiers as well as the EURO competition. Bürki retired, at least for the time being, from national team action in 2019 to focus on his club career. Bürki's career stats include a career 1.29 GA/90 (goals against per 90 min), a 70.5% save percentage, and 32% of his overall matches resulting in a clean sheet. Although in different leagues, this is very comparable to perennial MLS goalkeeper of the year candidates. Andre Blake from Philadelphia Union for instance, has a career 1.32 GA/90, 71.8% save %, and 29.9% clean sheet performances.
3/15/22 Update: News broke late on Monday, 3/14, by Manuel Veth of Transfermarkt and confirmed by Fabrizio Romano, that Roman Bürki has agreed in principle and has a verbal agreement with St. Louis CITY SC. The latest news is that details are hoping to be finalized this week with an intent to announce "soon". Bürki has had numerous suitors recently, including reportedly Bayern Munich, Aston Villa, Galatasaray, Valencia, and one club from Serie A. Despite being under contract through 2023, his role at BVB appears as if St. Louis CITY SC may get Bürki on a free transfer, an absolute coup for such an established goalkeeper. His salary at Dortmund is currently in excess of $6.5 million, but CITY SC is reportedly looking to add him on a TAM (Targeted Allocation Money) deal, ensuring he does not take up 1 of 3 Designated Player slots and provides important roster flexibility. TAM deals require players salary + transfer fee does not exceed about $1.6 million per season. The importance of a free transfer is likely what ensures Bürki does not need to take a DP slot, as transfer fees are included in that salary requirement. Bürki's last match was the final match of the 2020-2021 Bundesliga season for BVB.
By Matt Baker