City's Future-Now Playing 4/12/22
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 April 12, 2022 that list includes Josh Yaro, Selmir Pidro, Tomáš Ostrák, João Klauss, and Roman Bürki. Joakim Nilsson and St Louis CITY SC have reportedly agreed to terms, but no announcement has been made. Nilsson has, up until recently, been a featured back on Sweden's national team in their fight to qualify for the World Cup. He is also fighting to help his club team in a relegation battle. As such, it may take another month or so for his signing to become official. A vacation precluded this feature last week but we're back to see what our players have been up to in the past couple of weeks. Plenty of action both here and abroad for players who will feature for St. Louis CITY SC in 2023.
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.
4/12/22 Update: Yaro started at center back in both STL CITY 2 matches this week. First, on April 5th in the 2nd round of the US Open Cup, Yaro helped CITY defeat Indy Eleven of the second division USL-Championship 2-0. Yaro was FotMob's player of the match with an 8.4 rating. He played all 90 minutes, recorded an assist, and had 74% passing accuracy. On April 10th, CITY 2 returned to MLS Next Pro action and Yaro again started and played all 90 minutes. This match proved a bit more trying for Yaro, as he found himself on the wrong side of the scorebook in the 12th minute with an unfortunate own goal attempting to clear a ball in the box. Yaro did have 83.9% passing accuracy and overcame that initial gaffe to help lead CITY 2 to a 4-3 victory and remain undefeated in MLS Next Pro league play.
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.
4/12/22 Update: Pidro played the full 90 minutes in both of FK Sarajevo's matches in the past couple of weeks. First, on April 2 FK Sarajevo tied Leotar Trebunje 1-1. Pidro received a yellow card in the 34th minute. On April 10th, Pidro helped his club record a clean sheet against Rudar Prijedor, winning 6-0.
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.
4/12/22 Update: Ostrák finished his last round of international duty with the Czech Republic's U21 team with a 3-0 win against Andorra's U21s on March 29. Since returning to 1. FC Köln, he was named to the bench in two games against Union Berlin on April 1 and against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on April 9. 1. FC Köln lost against Union Berlin 1-0 but defeated Mainz 3-2. Ostrák did not see action in either match.
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 Pfannenstiel 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 most recently with Sint-Truidense V.V. (STVV). Klauss has scored 65 goals in 195 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 $3.52m transfer fee.
4/12/22 Update: It has been an eventful couple of weeks for CITY's only designated player (so far). Klauss, on loan with Sint-Truidense V.V., of the Jupiler Pro League, has completed his loan stint with the club as they wrapped up matchday 33 and 34. Klauss was named to the bench in their match against Zulte Waragem on April 2nd. STVV went on to win 2-0. On April 10th, Klauss played in his final match with STVV, entering as a sub in the 76th minute. In the 77th minute, Klauss scored a goal, charging through the box, receiving a short cross from the right side, and in a mid-air jump, batted the ball into the net with his right foot. It was his 4th goal of the season and 2nd goal in his last 4 games played, since being announced as CITY's first designated player.
Having completed his season and loan stint, Klauss had a recent Instagram story with a picture of suitcases, the words Start na mudança, emojis of an airplane, the Brazilian flag, another airplane, and the United States flag. The implication clearly being that Klauss is on his way to his home in Brazil until he's able to join St. Louis CITY SC. While his contract will officially begin presumably on July 1, it will be interesting to see when Klauss arrives to begin training with and acclimating to live in St. Louis.
Roman Bürki - 6'2. 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 is a former Swiss international with experience in both World Cup Qualifiers as well as the EURO competition. He is still with Borussia Dortmund with his last game played for them being in May 2021.
4/12/22 Update: No change. Bürki has not seen action since May 2021 for either club or country, when BVB made a change to their starting keeper, opting to go with their 24 yr old, $16.5m signing of the future. It is anticipated that his next competitive match may be with St. Louis CITY 2 in MLS Next Pro after he arrives in STL in July 2022.
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. Also of note, Manuel Veth from Transfermarkt reported on March 20 that Nilsson and CITY have agreed to full terms for a free summer transfer. However as Bielefeld are in a relegation fight, an announcement on his signing is not expected soon.
4/12/22 Update: Nilsson started and played all 90 minutes in both of Arminia Bielefeld's matches in the last 2 weeks. First, on April 2nd, he started at center back against VfB Stuttgart. FotMob gave him a rating of 7.14 and recorded that he had 67 touches. He has 84% passing accuracy with 1 key pass made and helped his club to a 1-1 tie. On April 9th, he again started at center back this time against VfL Wolfsburg where his team suffered a 4-0 defeat. In the loss, FotMob rated Nilsson a 5.8 with 85% passing accuracy and 76 touches. As his relegation battle is reportedly a primary reason he has yet to be announced, it's worth noting that his club currently sits in 16th - in the relegation zone, one point shy of a tie with Stuttgart. Unfortunately, this weekend they play Bayern Munich with 5 matches to go in the Bundesliga season.
Wan Kuzain - 5'10. 139 lbs. 23 yrs old. Midfielder
Wan Kuzain is a very familiar face to anyone familiar with soccer in St. Louis. He developed in the St. Louis Scott Gallagher system, eventually being signed by Saint Louis FC in USL-Championship in 2016. Kuzain was loaned to their U23 team in PDL before being signed into the Sporting Kansas City system in 2017 where he played for the Swope Park Rangers (now SKCII). Over the course of the next few years, he alternated between Swope Park and Sporting Kansas City in MLS, where he made 58 appearances and scored 4 goals. Long rumored, Kuzain was a key signing by St. Louis CITY 2's inaugural roster and from the beginning, is rumored to have signed a similar deal to Josh Yaro, which would ensure him a spot on our 2023 MLS roster.
I wanted to follow Kuzain here due to the above rumor but also Kuzain's own CITY2 roster page has him listed as a Homegrown signing and being on the Supplemental Roster 25-28 slots, indicating a place on the MLS team in that particular category of player where Homegrowns often land. This could be a holdover from when he was with Sporting Kansas City, as he held the same designation with them, but as it's listed on his official CITY2 page plus the existing rumors, he's more than worth tracking here.
4/12/22 - Kuzain has had arguably the best start of any CITY 2 player so far. After scoring the first ever goal in CITY 2 history, he has played in both of CITY 2's matches in the last 2 weeks. On April 5th, he started in midfield for CITY 2 against Indy Eleven in the 2nd round of the US Open Cup. FotMob gave Kuzain an 8.22 rating, 2nd only to Josh Yaro, as he played all 90 minutes and scored their 2nd goal in the 72nd minute. This cemented their 2-0 win and moved them into the 3rd round, which will be an April 20th matchup against Louisville City. As with Yaro, Kuzain and CITY returned to MLS Next Pro action on Sunday April 10th at home against the Tacoma Defiance. Kuzain again started in the midfield, playing the right side. He played 73 minutes in this matchup and helped CITY 2 to a 4-3 victory.
By Matt Baker