© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Photos: St. Louis City fans keep hope after first playoff loss to Sporting KC

Rob Playter, 38, of Belleville, waves a St. Louis City Punks flag while cheering for the St. Louis City SC on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, during a first round MLS playoff match against Sporting Kansas City at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Rob Playter, 38, of Belleville, waves a St. Louis City Punks flag while cheering for St. Louis City SC on Sunday during a first-round Major League Soccer playoff match against Sporting Kansas City at CityPark in Downtown West.

St. Louis City SC made history in becoming the first Major League Soccer expansion team to win a conference title in its inaugural season, making fans optimistic and anxious going into their first playoff game.

“Truthfully, I’m very scared because we’re not just going against any team. … Winning against Kansas City is such a loaded conversation,” said Michelle Yates, a 34-year-old fan from Granite City, before the game. “The hope for [a win] to actually be what happens here, not just once, but at least twice throughout this whole series. That’s the scary part.”

Fans’ fears materialized early and often on Sunday, as City entered halftime down 3-1. The second half brought no relief, with Sporting Kansas City adding another goal during a nonstop deluge at CityPark in Downtown West.

“We’ve punched teams like this in the face a few times, and now we know what it feels like,” said St. Louis City SC head coach Bradley Carnell. “Part of being a champion is knowing how to lose. … It's one and done, and we move on to the next one.”

Capo “Super Santo”, right, and droves of St. Louis City SC fans march down the street on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, before City takes on Sporting Kansas City in their first postseason matchup at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
“Super Santo,” right, and droves of St. Louis City SC fans march down the street on Sunday before City takes on Sporting Kansas City at CityPark in Downtown West.

Despite the loss, fans said they are excited to be in the playoffs during the team’s inaugural season.

“There's no way when this season started we thought we would be where we are today,” said Dan Magoc, a 59-year-old City fan from south St. Louis County, at a pregame celebration at Schlafly Tap Room, near CityPark. “I don’t want to say anything here is icing on the cake, but I think we still have a lot to prove. We got here, but that’s the first step.”

City made history earlier this month when the team took Major League Soccer's Western Conference title and also qualified for the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. The team broke the record for most victories by an expansion club at the end of September after defeating Sporting KC 4-1 and reaching 17 wins.

“I yelled at the top of my lungs. I was super excited because at the beginning of the season, I thought [we would end up] maybe mid-table somewhere around there for us to be top when everybody doubted us. … [That] was huge,” said Josh Blease, 32, of St. Peters, on the moment he learned St. Louis won the conference. “For us to be first in the West … I don’t want to say it was a dream come true, because that’s a cliche — but it was a dream come true.”

St. Louis City SC players embrace defender Tim Parker (26) celebrates after scoring a goal against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at CityPark in downtown St. Louis.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC players embrace defender Tim Parker (26) after he scored a goal against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at CityPark in Downtown West.

Pollsters across sports media had City toward the bottom of the table in the preseason. One poll had the team second to last in a field of 29, while another had St. Louis in last place.

“I mean, it's easy to say this expansion team is new. They don't have the pace of play. They don't know what they're doing. We proved them wrong,” Blease said, reminiscing of the polls. “I never saw us as an underdog at all. I saw us as a team that had something to prove.”

Magoc expressed similar sentiments and said the team’s perseverance is indicative of the region's people. “I think the team reflects St. Louis. We're a hardworking, team-oriented city,” he said. “I think that's why we've embraced them so much. They are St Louis. I really believe it.”

St. Louis City SC will take on Sporting Kansas City at 4 p.m. Sunday in Kansas City in an attempt to keep playoff hopes alive.

See more photographs by photojournalists Tristen Rouse and Brian Munoz below.

Two men record a video ahead of St. Louis City SC’s game against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. The playoff game kicks off postseason play for the club’s record-setting first year. City SC is the first Major League expansion squad to win its regular season conference title.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Two men record a video ahead of St. Louis City SC’s game against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at City Park in Downtown West. The playoff game kicked off postseason play for the club’s record-setting first year. City SC is the first Major League expansion squad to win a regular-season conference title.
Mike Ziegler, from Tower Grove East, kneels down to pet golden retrievers Oslo and Franklin ahead of St. Louis City SC’s game against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. The playoff game kicks off postseason play for the club’s record-setting first year. City SC is the first Major League expansion squad to win its regular season conference title.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Mike Ziegler, from Tower Grove East, kneels to pet golden retrievers Oslo and Franklin ahead of St. Louis City SC’s game against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at City Park.
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, 68, rallies with St. Louis City SC fans on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, before a matchup against Sporting KC in the MLS playoffs at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, 68, rallies with St. Louis City SC fans on Sunday before a matchup against Sporting Kansas City in the first round of the MLS playoffs at CityPark in Downtown West.
Gregory Cross, center, gets hyped with thousands of St. Louis City SC fans on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, during a matchup against Sporting KC in the MLS playoffs at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Gregory Cross, center, gets hyped with thousands of St. Louis City SC fans on Sunday during a matchup against Sporting KC in the first round of the MLS playoffs at CityPark in Downtown West.
Bruce Howard, 69, of St. Charles, rolls an inflated soccer ball he created two years ago for a local art festival on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, outside of CityPark in downtown St. Louis.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Bruce Howard, 69, of St. Charles, rolls an inflated soccer ball he created two years ago for a local art festival on Sunday outside CityPark in Downtown West.
From left: Jake Nerwinski, Logan Ndenbe, Indiana Vassilev and Daniel Salloi battle for the ball during St. Louis City SC’s 4-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. The playoff loss kicked off postseason play after City SC’s record-setting first year. City SC is the first Major League expansion squad to win its regular season conference title.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
From left: Jake Nerwinski, Logan Ndenbe, Indiana Vassilev and Daniel Salloi battle for the ball during St. Louis City SC’s 4-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at City Park. The playoff loss kicked off postseason play after City SC’s record-setting first year. City SC is the first Major League expansion squad to win its regular season conference title.
St. Louis City SC defender Joakim Nilsson (4) battles for the ball during City SC’s 4-1 loss to Sporting KC on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. The playoff loss kicked off postseason play after the club’s record-setting first year. City SC is the first Major League expansion squad to win its regular season conference title.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC defender Joakim Nilsson (4) battles for the ball during City SC’s 4-1 loss to Sporting KC on Sunday at CityPark.
St. Louis City SC defender Anthony Markanich (13) headbutts the ball while under pressure from Sporting Kansas City attacker Chary Shelton (11) on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, during a first round MLS playoff game at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC defender Anthony Markanich (13) heads the ball while under pressure from Sporting Kansas City attacker Chary Shelton (11) on Sunday during a first round MLS playoff game at CityPark in Downtown West.
Thousands of St. Louis City SC fans cheer for the team on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, during a matchup against Sporting KC in the MLS playoffs at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC fans cheer for the team on Sunday during a matchup against Sporting Kansas City in Downtown West.
St. Louis City SC fans boo a Sporting KC player as he prepares to throw the ball in on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. City SC lost their playoff debut 4-1 to Sporting KC.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis fans boo a Sporting KC player as he prepares to throw the ball in on Sunday at CityPark in Downtown West.
St. Louis City SC forward Sam Adeniran (16) makes a play toward the goal in the final minutes of City SC’s 4-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. The playoff loss kicked off postseason play after City SC’s record-setting first year. City SC is the first Major League expansion squad to win its regular season conference title.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC forward Sam Adeniran (16) makes a play toward the goal in the final minutes of City SC’s 4-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at CityPark in Downtown West. The playoff loss kicked off postseason play after the City SC’s record-setting first year.
St. Louis City SC midfielder Eduard Loewen (10) drives the ball up the field while under pressure by Sporting Kansas City’s Khiry Shelton (11) on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, during a first round MLS playoff game at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC midfielder Eduard Lowen (10) drives the ball up the field while under pressure by Sporting Kansas City’s Khiry Shelton (11) on Sunday at CityPark.
Rain collects on glasses worn by Travis Hollywood, 32, of Lake St. Louis, on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, during a matchup against Sporting KC in the MLS playoffs at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Rain collects on glasses worn by Travis Hollywood, 32, of Lake St. Louis, on Sunday at CityPark in Downtown West.
St. Louis City SC attacker Indiana Vassilev (19) shoots a free kick past Sporting KC defense on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, during a first round MLS playoff game at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC attacker Indiana Vassilev (19) shoots a free kick past Sporting KC defense on Sunday during a first-round MLS playoff game at CityPark in Downtown West.
St. Louis City SC defender Tim Parker (26) celebrates after scoring a goal against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at CityPark in downtown St. Louis.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC defender Tim Parker (26) celebrates after scoring a goal against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at CityPark.
From left: Alyssa Arceri, 32, and Travis Hollowood, 32, both of Lake St. Louis, cheer for St. Louis City SC on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, as they take on Sporting Kansas City in their first postseason matchup at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
From left: Alyssa Arceri, 32, and Travis Hollowood, 32, both of Lake St. Louis, cheer for St. Louis City SC on Sunday at CityPark in Downtown West.
A rain-soaked St. Louis City SC fan watches the club’s playoff game against Sporting KC on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. City SC lost their playoff debut 4-1 to Sporting KC.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A St. Louis City SC fan watches the club’s playoff game against Sporting KC on a rainy Sunday night at City Park in St. Louis.
St. Louis City SC fans cheer for the team on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, as they take on Sporting Kansas City in their first postseason matchup at CityPark in Downtown West.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC fans cheer on Sunday as their team takes on Sporting Kansas City in a postseason matchup at CityPark in Downtown West.
Sporting Kansas City players celebrate after scoring a goal on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. City SC lost their playoff debut 4-1 to Sporting KC.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Sporting Kansas City players celebrate after scoring a goal on Sunday at CityPark in Downtown West.
Sporting Kansas City players celebrate in front of St. Louis City SC fans after scoring a goal on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. City SC lost their playoff debut 4-1 to Sporting KC.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Sporting Kansas City players celebrate in front of St. Louis City SC fans after scoring a goal on Sunday at CityPark.
St. Louis City SC players walk during a break in play against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. City SC lost their playoff debut 4-1 to Sporting KC.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC players walk during a break in play against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at CityPark in St. Louis.
A rain-soaked St. Louis City SC fan watches the club’s playoff game against Sporting KC on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at City Park in St. Louis. City SC lost their playoff debut 4-1 to Sporting KC.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A rain-soaked St. Louis City SC fan watches the club’s playoff game against Sporting KC on Sunday at CityPark in Downtown West.

Brian Munoz is a photojournalist and multimedia reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
Tristen Rouse is a documentary photographer and photo editor based in Washington D.C. He is a former photojournalist at St. Louis Public Radio.