Hello friends and welcome to potentially the first “actually not about sports gambling” content on The Bookies Basement, well, at least until we can bet on MLS NEXT Pro. As an esteemed reporter of St. Louis area sport, I’ve been covering the developmental team of future MLS side St. Louis CITY SC.

CITY2, as they’re known, started play this year in MLS NEXT Pro, which as a new league further muddies the already segmented American soccer system. It’s a third tier(?) league in the US, a developmental league of MLS and a slightly lower level of play than the USL championship.

St. Louis CITY2 returned to their Edwardsville, Illinois home on a hot and sticky Saturday night, defeating Real Monarchs 2-0 in MLS NEXT Pro action. The victory sees CITY2 jump to the top of the Western Conference, for the time being at least.

Saturday’s win comes off the back of a successful road trip for STL CITY2: a 2-2 draw in Colorado against Rapids 2, a dominant 5-0 win in suburban Chicago against Chicago Fire II, and a comeback 2-1 victory over Sporting KC II thanks to a second half brace from midfielder Max Schneider in just three minutes time. 

CITY2’s unbeaten streak is now standing at seven matches. The team has scored 17 goals and only conceded five on the run. 

Goals from Kyle Hiebert and Akil Watts in the first half proved to be enough for the win for St. Louis. Real Monarchs had plenty of chances, and even won the xG battle. 

(courtesy of @GameFlowxPG on Twitter)

As this illustrates, STL had the goals, but Real Monarchs had plenty of chances. CITY2’s defense wasn’t stopping the quick breaks, until the second half when Head Coach John Hackworth started utilizing the fresh legs of his substitutes on the bench.

“We didn’t play our best,” St. Louis CITY2 Head Coach John Hackworth said following the game. “We find ways to win, and we’ve done that in this stretch. It’s a really important thing for a team to learn to do. I’d like us to be more comfortable and in control of the game, but you have these types of nights where you just have to grind out a win.”

Grinding out the game is exactly what CITY2 goalkeeper Michael Creek did. A number of big saves halting breakaways, reflex saves on rebounds, and hectic clearances from his defense kept a clean sheet for the home side. 

“You just take it one play at a time really and focus on each moment.” Creek said post-match. “A lot of times, I kinda forget about stuff until I rewatch the game afterwards, and it’s like ‘oh wow that actually happened’, or sometimes everything isn’t in the same order in your mind.”

St. Louis CITY2 returns to Ralph Korte Stadium in Edwardsville this Saturday, July 2, hosting Colorado Rapids 2. Available to watch on mlsnextpro.com for those not able to make it to the match.