City's Future-Now Playing 4/26/22
We're back again to 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 26, 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 in the Bundesliga. As such, it may take another few weeks or so for his signing to become official. There was no action for Klauss or Bürki again this week and we are starting to see a peek into the end of the season for Pidro, Ostrák, and Nilsson, but Yaro and Kuzain are essentially in midseason form now with a difficult two games played in one week.
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.
4/26/22 Update: This past week, Yaro played a total of 210 minutes. 120 of those minutes came on 4/20 in the 3rd round US Open Cup match against Louisville City FC. In that match, Yaro started and played every minute including extra time. FotMob was very high on yaro, rating him a 7.8 and noted he had 7 clearances and 8 recoveries in an effort that found CITY2 on the defensive for a good portion of the match. Yaro's stellar performance played a huge factor in keeping Lou City scoreless. Yaro added a PK goal to, at the time, put CITY2 up 4-3 on PKs. Unfortunately, CITY2 went on to lose the match 0-0 (9-8 on PKs), ending their US Open Cup run.
Yaro returned to action with CITY2 on 4/24 in MLS Next Pro league play against Minnesota United FC 2 at home. Yaro again started and played the full 90, though the rest of the CITY2 squad looked markedly different. Yaro at times appeared to be playing the central role in a 3-man backline. At times when on the defensive though, he shifted into a right center back role, especially as CITY2 began to fall behind. CITY2 struggled on defense all night, but Yaro was a consistent bright spot, preventing some breakaway opportunities and providing a measure of stability in the central defense. CITY2 went on to lose 4-0, marking their first defeat in MLS Next Pro 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.
4/26/22 Update: Pidro started for FK Sarajevo at left back on April 23rd against FK Tuzla City. Pidro played all 90 minutes once again as Sarajevo went on to win 1-0.
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.
4/26/22 Update: After recovering from an illness, Ostrák returned to training for 1. FC Köln on 4/20. He was not selected for the game day roster for their match against Arminia Bielefeld as Köln went on to win 3-1. The overwhelming news from Germany is that with Ostrák known to be leaving and Köln having wanted him to stay, he has somewhat fallen out of favor in their game day roster, so with 3 games left in the Bundesliga season, it will be interesting to see if that trend continues or if Ostrák sees meaningful minutes.
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.
4/26/22 Update: With his season completed, Klauss continues to enjoy his interlude in Brazil before coming to St. Louis in the coming months.
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.
4/26/22 Update: 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. Bürki did travel to Munich for Der Klassiker with Dortmund on 4/23 however, putting a quick end to speculation and questions as to whether CITY could move him to the US early, as their CITY2 starting keeper Eric Walker, suffered a season ending injury.
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.
4/26/22 Update: Nilsson's Arminia Bielefeld was in action against Tomas Ostrák's 1. FC Köln on 4/23. While Bielefeld went on to lose 3-1, Nilsson did play all 90 minutes in the left center back position. He had 6 clearances and 7 recoveries while committing 2 fouls. With 3 games left and 6 points behind safety from relegation, things are not looking great for Nilsson's club to remain in the Bundesliga past this 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.
4/26/22 - As with Yaro, Kuzain played in two matches this past week, first against Lou City in the US Open Cup on 4/20 and then against MNUFC2 in MLS Next Pro on 4/24. Kuzain started and played 111 minutes for CITY2. It was a seemingly frustrating match for Kuzain as he did not record a shot on goal and received a FotMob rating of 6.1. Kuzain was subbed off for Fritz Volmar, so he did not participate in PKs to decide the winner.
Kuzain received a bit of rest at the onset of the MNUFC2 match though as CITY2 began with fresh faces and new looks for familiar ones, seemingly committing to both rest and the development mantra of the league. It quickly overwhelmed CITY2 though and Kuzain was called upon to sub into the match at halftime. Kuzain had a few sparks of offense including one of the better opportunities that CITY2 was able to muster. Overall he had 2 shots on goal with an xG of 0.12 as CITY2 went on to lose 4-0.
By Matt Baker