St. Louis City became the first Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team to win the opening four games of their inaugural season, beating San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 on Saturday, but their record start was not a surprise for coach Bradley Carnell.
After comeback wins against Austin FC, Charlotte FC and Portland Timbers, goals from from Nicholas Gioacchini, João Klauss and Tomáš Ostrák helped St. Louis ease to victory in their second home game since joining the league.
St. Louis won only one of the six preseason games — 4-0 against Inter Miami. South African Carnell, in his first year as head coach, said those results gave the team extra motivation to prove their doubters wrong.
"Is it a surprise for us? No. The boys were confident from day one," said Carnell, who served as interim manager and an assistant coach at New York Red Bulls. "The boys were angry from day one, that no one believed in them. So yeah, we had the chip on the shoulder. But now we've shown that it's not just about having a chip on the shoulder. We can compete... We can dominate, we can take control and execute."
St. Louis sit five points clear of Los Angeles FC at the top of the Western Conference standings. They take on eighth-placed Real Salt Lake next weekend.
"We just now have to stay grounded," Carnell added. "I don't doubt this group for one single day that we don't remain humble, that we don't remain eager to learn and to commit. I just want to keep this going. Right now the motto is, 'Comfortable, but never satisfied.'"
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru)