KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The hype comes down to Saturday’s first-ever meeting between new MLS state rivals Sporting KC and St. Louis City SC.
Whether it’s barbecue wars or the battles between the Royals and the Cardinals, Kansas City and St. Louis have always had some sort of friendly (or aggressive) beef.
The rivalry between the pro soccer teams has already begun for the two sides.
Sporting KC and Kansas City as a whole use the moniker “Soccer Capital of America” while St. Louis uses “America’s First Soccer City.” This alone has already created a clash between fans.
The players and coaches involved have yet to feel it, but they are definitely ready to get a rivalry going.
“I think it’s gonna be awesome,” SKC forward and Blue Valley Northwest alum Dániel Sallói said.
“Obviously not everybody feels the same way as some of us who have been living in Kansas City for longer. I think we’ve all met people from St. Louis, and we all know the differences they have, you know, Kansas City people and St. Louis people.”
“The best example would be I have friends who I’ve known since high school in Kansas City, and they are from St. Louis,” Sallói continued.
“And when the team was joining here in St. Louis, they straight up told me they’re gonna support St. Louis not me when we play them. So I think that’s a perfect example of how people just support their own city and they go for it really, really hard.”
St. Louis has a long resume of why they would like to be called the Soccer Capital of America instead.
Six players on Team USA’s 1950 World Cup roster were from St. Louis. The city had multiple pro soccer leagues from as far back as the late-1800s to the mid-1900s. The St. Louis Stars played 10 seasons in the old NASL before they moved to Anaheim to become the shortlived California Surf in 1978.
Not to mention a number of professional soccer players have come out of the area like U.S. Soccer alums Taylor Twellman, Becky Sauerbrunn and Al Trost, the uncle of St. Louis native/KC-based soccer broadcaster Aly Trost Martin.
And now in their inaugural season, STLSC started out blazing to a 5-0 start before slowing down to a modest 6-4-1 record that lands them at fourth in the Western Conference.
“I guess you have to say that they put a good roster together,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said. “I think it always helps when you come out of the gates with a win. As soon as you do that, I think you gain a lot of confidence.”
“I think they work really hard on the field, on both sides of the ball and, they take advantage of the situations that have occurred in their games,” he continued. “They’ve, they scored when they needed to and capitalized on mistakes of other teams.”
For Sporting, they are slowly altering course from one of the worst starts in league history.
After starting the season with a 0-7-3 record and three total goals scored, SKC has reeled off three-straight unbeaten matches, including one against the top team in the conference, the Seattle Sounders.
After a 1-1 draw with LAFC on Wednesday, rest and working recently injured players back into the lineup is a priority even in a rivalry.
“They’ll be well rested and we’ll have to come off of, a midweek game,” Vermes said.
“We have a bunch of other guys that will have to mix and match probably for the game, just to make sure that we keep some freshness and some people that have, if not a full gas tank, at least three quarters.”
SKC will be without goalkeeper Tim Melia for the second-straight game, but defender Tim Leibold is off of the injury report completely. St. Louis expects to get their star striker João Klauss back from injury as well.
The rivalry gets a nice 8:30 start time on Saturday night with a national audience on Fox Sports 1.