Fresh off another scoring milestone, St. Louis City faces a tough test when the upstart club visits Orlando City on Saturday.
St. Louis (14-8-2, 44 points) is atop the Western Conference standings, powered by a league-leading 49 goals. St. Louis City has won five of its last six regular-season matches, and last Sunday's 6-3 win over Austin FC marked the first-year club's highest single-match goal total.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of St. Louis City's immediate success is that the club is only now approaching a full-strength roster. Defender Joakim Nilsson (knee surgery) played three minutes Sunday in his first appearance of the season and could start against Orlando. Striker Joao Klauss (quad injury) has been training and may see his first action since April 22.
"It's great to have everybody in training because it just lifts the level of everybody else. ... It just gives us incentive to be better, and work harder and commit to the team even more because this is bigger than the individual," St. Louis coach Bradley Carnell said.
St. Louis leading scorer Nicholas Gioacchini has 10 goals. Njabulo Blom (caution accumulation) will miss Saturday's match, while Tim Parker is questionable due to a potential paternity leave.
For Orlando City (11-6-7, 40 points), Antonio Carlos and Gaston Gonzalez are out due to leg injuries. Ercan Kara will likely play after missing the Lions' previous match with illness.
Orlando scored three unanswered goals in a 3-1 road win over the Chicago Fire on Sunday. After falling behind 1-0 in the 47th minute, Wilder Cartagena equalized only three minutes later, and it took Ivan Angulo just four more minutes to add the go-ahead score.
During halftime, Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja said he told his club that "when we are in the box, we wanted more presence, and we started putting more movements in behind the central backs and their full backs. ... Scoring those three goals shows that they made things happen."
The Lions are 8-5-1 in their last 14 regular-season matches. Orlando City are 4-0-3 in their last seven home games.
—Field Level Media