ST. LOUIS - Fresh off a bye week, St. Louis City SC returns to MLS action on Saturday evening when they head to Houston to take on the Dynamo, looking to avenge their Concacaf Champions Cup elimination that started the season off on a sour note.

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But first, there’s a bit to catch up on. There have been a few developments within the City camp since their dramatic 3-3 draw against increasingly-hated rivals Sporting Kansas City.

One City player who didn’t feature on the team sheet in Kansas two weeks ago was Sam Adeniran, who was kept off the team sheet by Bradley Carnell. The reasoning given was seemingly a lack of effort in training, and Carnell insisted on “focusing on the guys that are here” when Adeniran’s absence was questioned.

Whatever transpired seems to be in the rearview mirror now, as Sam Adeniran has returned to training with the full team. Neither Adeniran nor Bradley Carnell commented on what led to the striker’s omission from the team for a few weeks but rather wanted to focus on the road ahead.

Adeniran’s absence came at a notable time: City have struggled for goals, and Joao Klauss hadn’t scored from open play since last September when Adeniran was suddenly no longer on the matchday team sheet. Carnell’s decision came under criticism, at the time Adeniran’s 0.56 goals over 90 minutes average (or goals-per-90) was much higher than Klaus’s despite much less game time.

With two goals from open play in the games, Adeniran was off the team sheet, Klauss has brought his goals-per-90 up to 0.42, closer but still trailing Adeniran’s mark. City scored three against Sporting Kansas City in a game that looked much more like the City of 2023. But questions remain regarding the true potency of the offense that has struggled to put games away.

City’s offensive struggles, and a statement from 2. Bundesliga (German second tier) team Hannover 96, has reignited the Cedric Teuchert discussion amongst City fans and followers. Cedric Teuchert is a striker for Hannover 96, for now at least. On Thursday Hannover 96 released a statement that Teuchert was “moving abroad after the season”.

Back in January, it was reported by Tom Bogert of The Athletic and Manuel Veth of Transfermarkt that St. Louis City was in talks with Hannover 96 to acquire Teuchert, this was also around the same time that the team sold striker Niko Gioacchini to Italian Serie B team Como.

Presumably, City inquired about Teuchert’s availability in the winter, but with the striker becoming a free agent at the end of the 2. Bundesliga season, Lutz Pfannenstiel and company decided to play the waiting game.

Reports coming out of Germany have indicated that Teuchert has already signed a deal with City, but according to Transfermarkt’s Manuel Veth, there’s no agreement in place between Cedric Teuchert and City as of this writing. City are indeed favorite to sign the free-agent striker, but Teuchert also has offers from other clubs, both in MLS and abroad.

Between the lines, Teuchert has been limited for game time this season due to injury. He scored eight goals in eleven games prior to a hamstring injury that forced him to miss November and December, and has only scored three in 14 since, primarily coming off the bench for Hannover 96.

While Teuchert would be a signing that addresses a lack of depth at the striker position, the lack of serious game time in the second half of the 2. Bundesliga season would make me curious as to how long it would take for him to integrate into Bradley Carnell’s City team.

Carnell has mentioned this year that 2023 summer signing Nökkvi Thórisson is still acclimating and integrating into the team, noting that many of City’s players had been there since 2022, some playing with CITY2 that year, including Klauss and Roman Bürki. Thórisson was seen to be an energetic attacking option, but has only featured in limited moments in his City tenure.

So I urge caution in thinking that Teuchert would be an urgent fix to City’s goalscoring troubles. No doubt, Cedric Teuchert would be a more than fine addition, but one that could take time before he’s banging in the goals in City Red.

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On the subject of transfer rumors, German soccer legend Marco Reus has announced that he’s leaving Champions League semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, making him a free agent that will be courted by clubs all over the world, and according to Transfermarkt and Sky Sports in Germany, clubs from MLS.

Naturally, people have connected the dots to St. Louis City, thanks in large part to City’s captain Roman Bürki, who manned the Dortmund goal while Reus manned just about every other inch of the Westfalenstadion, Dortmund’s home stadium.

Bürki also posted a few Instagram stories after Reus’s decision became public, calling Reus a “legend in the game” and “My Captain”, so plenty have inferred that Bürki wouldn’t be opposed to a reunion here in St. Louis.

Of the pie-in-the-sky rumors around St. Louis City SC in their short existence, the connection with Bürki and Reus’s rumored desire to go to MLS make this feel plausible. That being said, signing a 34-year-old who will command a large salary is potentially the opposite from City’s stated recruitment strategy, even if that 34-year-old is a legend of the game like Marco Reus.

I would work under the assumption that Lutz Pfannenstiel, or perhaps Carolyn Kindle and the ownership group, would need some convincing to bring Marco Reus to St. Louis, especially when the team is, generally, successful and selling out every single game at CITY PARK.

One German already in City Red, Eduard Löwen, is still dealing with an ongoing personal matter as well as rehabbing a hamstring, and according to Bradley Carnell, Löwen is still being given the time he needs away from the club.

On a positive note, Edu Löwen has been around the training ground, training on his own as part of his rehabilitation program. He’s not quite up to team training fitness, per Carnell, but is said to be progressing well as far as his hamstring is concerned.

Other City absences for Saturday night include Njabulo Blom and Josh Yaro, who are both working their way back to full fitness. Midfielder Chris Durkin is a game-time decision, after suffering a knock to the knee during a scrimmage match against CITY2 last weekend.

Now that we’ve caught up on the hot transfer gossip, there is actually a soccer game to be played at Shell Energy Stadium in Houston Saturday night. Last time City visited Houston, they were shutout and second-best, getting bumped from the Concacaf Champions League in the process.

“(Houston) got the better of us in the Champions Cup game, but I’ve thought for the most part we’ve had some good performances there,” said Bradley Carnell Thursday afternoon. “We had a good result against them here at home. They’re a very tough team to break down… defensively very stout, and they don’t give many goals away, don’t give many shots away.

“We’re going to have to be patient, we’re going to have to be deliberate with what we do, and make sure we’re connected. (Houston) wants to play the game with the ball, I think they’re the second highest possession (percentage) team in the league. They have a lot of guys who can play intricate passes in the midfield and have good combinations, good fluid play and they have dangerous players in the wide areas.”

As mentioned by Carnell there, what’s made Houston difficult to play in 2024 has been their resilient defense. The team has allowed just 10 goals in MLS play, tied for the second-fewest across the league. That stat is made more impressive by the cast of characters the Dynamo have had in defense, with seven different defensive starters this season due to varying injuries on the back line.

On the subject of injuries for the Dynamo, team captain and Mexican international Hector Herrera is slowly but surely working his way back to full-match fitness. Herrera was dealing with a knee injury that forced him to miss the opening few months of the season. He made his season debut on April 20 against Austin, logging a handful of minutes, and saw 30 minutes of action in Houston’s loss to FC Dallas last weekend.

City finds themselves one place and one point behind the 8th placed Dynamo in the MLS Western Conference, a win would see them leapfrog their hosts and move up the Western Conference table. Historically, or as historically as two seasons can be, City lead the series against Houston 2-1-1 across MLS and Concacaf Champions Cup.

A rested and refreshed St. Louis City SC heads to Texas to take on the Houston Dynamo Saturday evening, with kickoff just after 7:30 pm. The game is streaming for free on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV this weekend, with local radio broadcasts available on KYKY 98.1 FM in English and KXOK 102.9 FM in Spanish.

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