St. Louis City SC is due to take off in 2023 and the academy sooner than later. But before said academy kids start climbing the list, I thought I’d throw out a “clean slate” top 10 native St. Louis soccer players. That is, none of these players have been developed by St. Louis City SC. The idea is to list players that could perhaps play for City in 2023 (sorry Ibisevic fans, he’s 36) and monitor the changes leading up to opening day and on.
Josh Sargent – SV Werder Bremen
Let’s be honest, Sargent playing for City in 2023 would be a massive let down and also highly, highly unlikely. But, he’s the best active player that grew up in St. Louis and I don’t think it’s debatable. At this point, our best hope of seeing him in action in our city is if (WHEN) the #USMNT plays a match in our brand new stadium.
Tim Ream – Fulham FC
Tim is the first of a few players on this list you might argue are too old to play in MLS in 2023, but I beg to differ. Matt Besler, 36 years old and a lifetime MLSer, now captains expansion side Austin FC. Recently news broke that Geoff Cameron, 35, will be leaving Queens Park Rangers for FC Cincinnati. If Cameron and Besler can look good in MLS this year at their ages, then Ream, a talent somewhere between the English Championship and Premier League level, can do the job at 35. More so, Gregg Berhalter still seems to rate him as the second best left footed centerback in the USMNT pool. Assuming health, I’d feel safe betting the farm on Tim Ream having a spot on St. Louis’ inaugural season roster–and probably as captain.
Joe Willis – Nashville SC
This guy doesn’t get nearly the amount of press he deserves in this city. Joe has racked up 146 games in MLS with 30 clean sheets in his career. He now plays for defensive stalwart Nashville SC, who surprised everyone by making it 2 games deep into the playoffs in their inaugural season. On the way there, Joe accumulated the most clean sheets in the league with 9. Nashville were also 3rd lowest in goals allowed with 22. Joe will be 34 in 2023, which first of all, isn’t old for a goalkeeper. Second of all, he won’t necessarily have to carry a full load, as there are SEVERAL quality St. Louis goalkeepers on this list.
Will Bruin – Seattle Sounders
Age has a different connotation when you’re talking about attackers. I get this nagging feeling St. Louis City will play a physical, blue collar style of soccer. It’s hard to envision a 33 year old 194 lb Will Bruin pressing opposing defenders for 90 minutes, but I can imagine him coming on late in games to spell starting attackers or be the proverbial kitchen sink. Will has a knack for scoring goals in clutch situations–so much so that the Sounders seem to have built a 3-5-2 attack around him as a starter this year.
Tom Barlow – New York Red Bulls
Speaking of blue collar, pressing soccer, enter Tom Barlow. Red Bull is famous for this style of play and Tom fits it nicely. Bradley Wright-Phillips departed following the 2019 season, leaving Barlow and Brian White to span the gap. Since 2019 Barlow has 7 goals in 1,782 minutes of all MLS competition. Barlow isn’t prolific like his predecessor, but he works hard on both sides of the ball, has the ability to finish effectively, and plays his role perfectly in the Red Bull system. These are qualities a team like City might find very attractive.
Jack Maher – Nashville SC
While Jack has trained with some high level coaches in Preki, Anthony Pulis, Todd Yeagley, Mike Jeffries, and Gary Smith, unfortunately he only has 358 minutes with professional clubs. That said, it is clear the talent is there. His freshman year at Indiana, the Hooziers went 20-3-1 and led the NCAA with 15 shutouts, allowing 13 goals. Maher started every game. Jack captained the team in his sophomore year where they allowed 16 goals in 22 matches, though the team were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the quarterfinals. Following that season, Jack signed a Generation Adidas contract and was subsequently drafted second overall by Nashville SC. Jack severely needs experience, but arguably has the tools to play a lot of minutes for a MLS squad.
Aedan Stanley – Austin FC
Aedan is a player that has willed his way into USYNT squads, even captaining at times, and is the only academy contracted player with Saint Louis FC to play significant minutes–1,500 minutes in all competitions. After two quality years at Duke, he spent a season with the Portland Timbers 2 in 2020. Interestingly, in the following offseason, Sporting Kansas City signed him to a USL contract. Then, expansion side Austin FC drafted him in the MLS Superdraft and signed him on to stay. This worked out well for the team as Ben Sweat went down in week 1 with an ACL injury. Now Aedan is second in line at left back behind the young Croatian Zan Kolmanic, giving him a distinct chance to prove himself at the MLS level.
Tomas Gomez – Sacramento Republic
After Tomas’ tenure at Georgetown University, as well as some experimentation in MLS, Tomas landed at the Rochester Rhinos, where he studied his trade under head coach Bob Lilley. Bob is known for producing some of the best blue collar goalkeepers and defenders in the USL and I’ve heard straight from Tomas that it was a tough gig that sharpened his skills. Of course we’ve seen his work here in St. Louis. Tomas has good positioning and is a quality keeper, but it’s his work with his feet that is so impressive to me. If you’re looking for a modern keeper to pass out of the back and make the saves he’s expected to make, Tomas might be the best local match.
Connor Sparrow – The Miami FC
Connor Sparrow has been spending a lot of time in the USL with both the Real Monarchs and Nashville SC (the USL rendition). Although he put in 1,700 minutes with the Monarchs in 2017, he’s not really been the clear cut number one goalkeeper since. That is, until this year. Last year, THE Miami FC brought in a stunning stable of players as they switched over from NISA to the USL. Unfortunately failed to impress. This year, though, the team has rebuilt with a sturdier back line under the former head coach that has had previous success, and Connor seems braced to be the number 1 between the sticks.
Mark Segbers – Memphis 901 FC
Mark Segbers is a player that flourished as a forward at Wisconsin University, but has been a right back most of his professional career. That said, Orange County SC often used him as a right winger, or even a second striker, and he was able to tally 2 goals and 4 assists in 1,100 minutes. Since leaving OCSC, where he was on loan from the Revolution who drafted him, he’s scored 2 goals and assisted 4 times in about 1,800 USL Championship minutes. Mark is a cunning and able defender on the edge who has plenty of swagger and aggression in the attack. Perhaps the most intriguing move of Segbers’ career is his loan stint to Bob Bradley’s LAFC at the end of the USL season. He didn’t get game minutes, but if a team like LAFC liked what they saw, we may have a player with some interesting upside. -PG
Full St. Louis Native Player Rankings
|1||Josh Sargent – Werder Bremen|
|2||Tim Ream – Fulham|
|3||Joe Willis – Nashville SC|
|4||Will Bruin – Seattle Sounders|
|5||Tom Barlow – NY Red Bulls|
|6||Jack Maher – Nashville SC|
|7||Aedan Stanley – Austin FC|
|8||Tomas Gomez – Sacramento Republic|
|9||Connor Sparrow – Miami FC|
|10||Mark Segbers – Memphis 901|
|11||Patrick Schulte – SLU|
|12||AJ Cochran – Indy Eleven|
|13||Wan Kamal Wan Kuzain – Rio Grande Valley|
|14||Jake Leeker – Pittsburgh Riverhounds|
|16||John Berner – Memphis 901|
|17||Robert Kristo – NCFC?|
|18||Jack Lynn – Notre Dame|
|19||Emir Alihodzic – Union Omaha|
|20||Logan Panchot – Loudoun United|
|21||Austin Panchot – Union Omaha|
|22||Devin Boyce – Union Omaha|
|23||Brian Bement – Chattanooga|
|24||Eric McWoods – Al-Aqaba|
|25||Taner Dogan – Dunkalk|
|27||Alec Redington – Chattanooga|
|28||Jansen Miller – Xavier University|
|29||Tony Doellefeld – Villamarxant CF|
|30||Joey Maher – Indiana University|
|31||Kipp Keller – SLU|
|32||Alsadiq Hasan – Quincy University|
|33||Chase Niece – SLU|
|34||Lukas Hummel – Indiana University|
|35||Lawson Redmon – Indiana University|
|36||Kyle Genenbacher – SLSG|
|37||Chris Bruch – SLU|
|38||Kuzri Wan Kamal – SLSG|