City SC 2 To Debut In March

MLS’ newest team comes together as stadium progresses


Official rendering of the Centene Stadium , along with City SC’s training facility in downtown St. Louis. Photo’s courtesy of St. Louis City SC.

Diego Perez Palomino, Staff Writer

Soccer enthusiasts were thrilled when St. Louis was granted a Major League Soccer team in 2019, planned to debut in the 2023 season. Three years later, City SC has been expanding in a variety of ways. The Centene Stadium is underway, they’ve launched a smartphone app, and the new youth academy participated in MLS Next, one of the best youth soccer leagues in the country, last fall. In addition, they’ve recently announced their involvement in MLS Next Pro, a new semi-professional league debuting in March.
History teacher and varsity coach Brian Adams shares how he feels MLS Next Pro will impact young players.

“I think every kindergartener kicking a ball has a dream of someday playing on the biggest stage. MLS Next Pro provides a more realistic path to make that dream a reality,” Adam said. “It is easier for players in an MLS market to make it to an MLS team. If a player is in a club aligned with an MLS team, they are theoretically on that team’s radar.”

At the moment, MLS Next academy teams don’t guarantee a spot on their first division team roster, resulting in many talentful players falling through the cracks. This is what MLS Next Pro aims to fix, making the journey from amateur to professional simpler.

Fortunately, St. Louis’ City SC will be one the 20 inaugural teams participating in the league. Giving young players in our city the opportunity to prove themselves, as well as growing the City fanbase. Spencer Jang (9) has been a fan of the sport his whole life, currently playing for Lous Fusz Soccer Club. He’s excited about the addition of MLS Next Pro, both as a fan and a player.

“Yeah I’m honestly kinda thrilled about Next Pro because like I really like watching soccer in person, even if it’s semi-professional, to have so much variety of different teams in your own city is really cool. And I don’t know, I feel like it gives the MLS more structure, and hopefully makes it easier for me, my friends, and teammates to have a better chance at going pro,” Jang said.

Wiktor Waligora (11) can provide insight on the differences between soccer here, and in Europe. As a transfer exchange student, Waligora has experienced both the unconventional soccer system in the US, as well as the more traditional structure in Poland.

“So we have the relegation system. So like when you win a second division, you move up to the first division. And also when you lose in the league, you move down. which I don’t think that’s the case in the MLS,” Waligora said. “We also don’t play soccer like JV or varsity, so we don’t play as a part of school. We only have them in club teams,”

The reason why the MLS tries to imitate the structure of leagues like the NFL and NBA are purely financial. As a result of professional soccer in the states being relatively new, it’s expensive to build stadiums and buy players; so being demoted to a lower league would cause economic troubles.

“But maybe like not having relegation makes it boring a little, because having the same teams every season could get repetitive. However I still think the MLS will get popular more and more,” Waligora said.

Unfortunately, MLS Next Pro teams won’t be able to ascend to the MLS, however the league does offer a different variety of teams at a lower cost to clubs and fans; in hopes of filling the gap the relegation system once filled.