ST. LOUIS – Sunday marks a big milestone in St. Louis soccer history: The first MLS playoff game in the inaugural season of St. Louis CITY SC.
And what better way to begin playoffs than with a rivalry match? St. Louis CITY SC takes on Sporting Kansas City.
It’s not quite an in-state matchup with Sporting KC based in Kansas. But you could consider the CITY-Sporting playoff round another chapter of the Interstate 70 series, first coined through the St. Louis Cardinals-Kansas City Royals World Series of 1985.
Rivalry aside, Sunday promises to be a thrilling spectacle for soccer fans and the St. Louis community alike. Tens of thousands are expected downtown, either to pack CITYPARK or enjoy other elements of a playoff soccer atmosphere.
To plan ahead for Sunday, here are some important things to know:
St. Louis CITY SC has an opportunity to play up to three matchups in their first playoff series with Sporting Kansas City. They will play at least two, including the first at home and the second on the road.
In the case of a tied series after two matches, St. Louis would host the series-deciding match. Heading into this weekend, this is the current schedule:
- Match 1: Sunday, Oct. 29 (CITYPARK – St. Louis) – 9 p.m.
- Match 2: Sunday, Nov. 5 (Children’s Mercy Park – Kansas City) – 4 p.m.
- Match 3: (If necessary) Saturday, Nov. 11 (CITYPARK – St. Louis) – 6 p.m.
Though the first match is scheduled for 9 p.m., kickoff might begin closer to 9:20 or 9:30 based on developments in other MLS matches on Sunday.
One other important thing to note for this round with scheduling: There are no draws. If a match is tied beyond regulation, it will be decided by a penalty kick shootout.
How To Watch/Listen
Anyone looking to watch the game live without a ticket to CITY SC’s playoff debut has two options.
The game will be broadcast nationally on FS1. Anyone with an Apple TV account can also watch the first game for free. You do not need to have Apple TV+ or MLS Season Plus to watch the first game of the series, just an account to access a stream that will be made available Sunday.
If you’re in the St. Louis area, but don’t have access to either FS1 or Apple TV, you can listen to the broadcast via radio on 98.1 FM.
Some tickets for Match 1 are available for as low as $74 before fees, but most options are at least $100. If you have a ticket for Sunday, you can enter the stadium as soon as 7:30 p.m. CT.
If you can’t attend the first match, perhaps you could consider a quick road trip to Kansas City for the second match, with some tickets starting as low as $43 before fees. Tickets for a potential third match are not yet publicly available.
CITY SC’s path to playoffs
St. Louis CITY SC finished its inaugural season with a 17-5-12 record and 56 points. The 17 wins broke a record for most by an expansion team in their first year, and the 56 points came one short of matching a record for most points by an expansion team in their inaugural campaign.
CITY SC rattled off five consecutive wins to open its inaugural season, setting an MLS record. They never went more than three games without earning at least one point in the standings. CITY SC became the first team to clinch a playoff spot on Sept. 21 and officially clinched the Western Conference’s top seed on Oct. 1.
Head-to-head, CITY SC won two of three matches and scored nine goals against Sporting KC in the regular season. The home team won each match in the regular season. Sporting KC defeated the San Jose Earthquakes in a Wild Card round on Wednesday, advancing as the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed and setting up Sunday’s contest against St. Louis.
The leaders of St. Louis CITY SC are pretty well established. Three are up for MLS End-Year honors in goaltender Roman Bürki, midfielder Eduard Löwen and midfielder Tim Parker. On offense, Niko Gioacchini and Klauss have set the bar high, sharing the team lead with 10 goals.
Kansas City has maintained a strong core of players for several years. Defender Graham Zusi is the team’s longest-tenured player, having debuted for Sporting KC in 2008. Goaltender Tim Melia, forward Daniel Salloi and captain Johnny Russell all bring at least five years of experience with Kansas City.
Parking options closer to CITYPARK will be in high demand, and many of those spots will primarily be given to parking pass holders. Among options closest to CITYPARK are the Premium CITY Garage, located on Olive Street near 20th Street.
The Union Station parking lot is also a relatively quick walk to the stadium, but demand could be high there as well. Other nearby options are parking lots at 409 South 15th Street, 360 South 18th Street and 1211 Spruce Street.
Ballpark Village will offer shuttles to and from CITYPARK, though fees may apply in some cases. CITY SC outlines a few other parking spots that might require a bit of a walk.
For those who want to avoid parking hassles, you can take the Metro to the Union Station exit or arrange a rideshare for dropoff at Locust Street, between 20th and 21st streets.
If you can’t attend CITY SC’s first playoff game or celebration, you could take in the experience with a watch party. At least 18 bars are registered through St. Louis CITY SC’s watch party experience, tabbed as “CITY On Tap Presented By Michelob ULTRA.”
“CITY On Tap” bars are all registered with MLS Season Pass credentials and plan to carry broadcasts for all remaining matches this year. That includes many locations in the City of St. Louis and the following suburbs:
- Arnold, Missouri
- Florissant, Missouri
- Kirkwood, Missouri
- O’Fallon, Missouri
- Valley Park, Missouri
- Webster Groves, Missouri
- Alton, Illinois
- Columbia, Illinois
- Edwardsville, Illinois
- O’Fallon, Illinois
To find a “CITY On Tap” location near you, click here.
Rest of playoffs
After the Wild Card Round, the MLS plans to schedule conference semifinals and finals matches between Nov. 25 and Dec. 3. Unlike the best-of-three first round series, these rounds will consist of just one winner-take-all match. The MLS Cup is set for Dec. 9 between the Western and Eastern conference champions and will also consist of just one single match.