More than a year before St. Louis CITY SC plays its first game, the MLS expansion club has a head coach.

The team introduced Bradley Carnell, a soccer legend in South Africa with MLS coaching experience, as its first head coach Wednesday.

“We can honestly say that we got our top candidate for the club’s first head coach position, and wanted to get him on board early given the integral role he’ll play in building our first team,” said Lutz Pfannenstiel, the club's sporting director. “We knew it was important to have someone who understood the ins and outs of the MLS, as well as the international market, and Bradley has all the attributes we were looking for. His experience as a player and coach set him apart, and I am confident that he will help us to build a very competitive team for our inaugural 2023 season.”

Carnell, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, played for local clubs before playing for Germany’s Bundesliga and as a regular for the South African national team, making 42 appearances for his country between 1997 and 2010. He then coached the University of Johannesburg's men’s team and assisted Orlando Pirates before becoming an assistant coach for the New York Red Bulls of MLS in 2017. He served as the team’s interim head coach in September 2020, becoming the only MLS interim head coach to guide his team to the playoffs that year, before returning to his assistant's role for 2021, another playoff year for the Red Bulls.

“I am grateful to be a part of the St. Louis CITY family, a team where I can help build something special in a city that is already so passionate about soccer,” Carnell said. “Lutz’s vision matches my ambitions of building a competitive team through the heavy use of data, technology and a keen focus on individual player development. I am looking forward to establishing a team that reflects St. Louis – one that’s diverse, hardworking and community led. I am thrilled to help create the future of the sport in an incredible soccer city.”

For the next year, Carnell, 44, will help Pfannenstiel identify players who fit St. Louis CITY’s playing style.

“As a player, he embodied the intense, counter-press and quick transitional play that will define CITY’s style of play and as a coach, works tirelessly on and off the pitch to develop those abilities in players,” Pfannenstiel said. “His hunger and determination to succeed will get the best out of our players."

Carolyn Kindle Betz, president and CEO of St. Louis CITY SC, said other clubs had shown interest in hiring Carnell.

“We had to move quickly to bring him to St. Louis,” Kindle Betz said. “In Bradley we have an innovative, modest and forward-thinking head coach that wants to help revitalize and connect our region through soccer. We are thrilled he chose us.”

Featured Podcast

See all