When you think of St. Louis sports, the first thing that comes to mind has to be the Cardinals. After that it might be the Blues and the true St. Louis sports fans might even bring up the late, great St. Louis Rams.
But St. Louis is going through a sporting renaissance of sorts. Soccer has become absolutely massive in the city. USL side Saint Louis FC came into existence in 2014 and has boosted the interest in soccer even more than before.
The club formed a unique partnership with the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club and they continue to churn out top talent. There was already a great history of talent to come out of St. Louis, but this is just another reason for soccer to keep growing.
One school that has benefited greatly from some of that talent is Indiana. The Hoosiers have found their so-called recruiting hotspot and have struck gold throughout the years.
“St. Louis has been a huge part of this program,” IU recruiting coordinator and St. Louis native Kevin Robson said. “You go back to the 70s, 80s, 90s and now the 2000s, you can list off players from all of those schools. The prep schools, the CBC’s (Christian Brother’s College), the Chaminade’s, the DeSmet’s, the Vianney’s. They’ve all produced big time players for this university and it’s been fun to watch and fun to see historically what St. Louis has meant to this program.”
Coming to IU to play college soccer is apparently just the thing to do. Just ask Will Bruin, Chris Klein, Harry Weiss, Pat Noonan or Mike Ambersley. All are former stand out IU players from the Gateway City. Currently, the Hoosiers have five more players from St. Louis in AJ Palazzolo, Austin Panchot, Jack Maher, Daniel Munie and Kyle Barks.
Many of these names have grown up in the Scott Gallagher program. It has grown to new heights, especially since the USL team came to be. The program is a hotbed of talent and the Hoosiers have found some gems. One of those gems is freshman Jack Maher who has already gotten some time with Saint Louis FC.
“The St. Louis Scott Gallagher Club, Saint Louis FC club, they have a lot of good talent, a lot of good coaches,” Maher said. “I mean, just from growing up in that system, you are with the best coaches. Having someone like coach Robson to really be able to get in there and hand pick the best St. Louis guys. I think it does a lot for Indiana and it gives St. Louis a lot to look up to.”
The Hoosiers have stamped their flag in the city and continue to get top talent from the area. There isn’t even that great of a reason for St. Louis to be such a hotbed. Robson said maybe it was just the proximity.
Whatever the reason is, there is no doubt IU has benefited from having a good relationship with the city. Robson said he loves going back to recruit in his hometown. Being a former IU player who won a few national titles has to make it even sweeter for the fifth year assistant coach.
“To see what St. Louis has done to produce top talent like that is really fun to see,” Robson said. “Getting to wear Indiana around to those games has been a dream come true. Watching those players and seeing what they’ve developed into throughout the years has been fun.”
The soccer culture in St. Louis has also been growing. The city nearly landed a MLS team last year, however a vote for a soccer-specific stadium didn’t go their way. Still, USL matches are packed at Toyota Stadium. The city has even hosted the United States Men’s National team for a 2018 World Cup qualifier in 2015 at Busch Stadium, home to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Scott Gallagher program helps no doubt. It’s a city with a strong list of players who are in the pro ranks now. Many are in MLS and some are even abroad. One is a seasoned veteran like Tim Ream who is playing for recently promoted Fulham in the English Premier League. Another is 18-year-old Josh Sargent who is currently playing for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga. Both have gotten US Men’s National team time.
Those are just two names. There are many more. Some of them are hoping to make their name in Bloomington. Whoever it may be, Panchot says it’s cool to see Gallagher products doing well.
In his eighth season in MLS, Will Bruin (@wbruin) has carved out a nice career for himself.
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) May 29, 2018
“It motivates you to put your mark on the pro career as well and represent Gallagher as best you can,” Panchot said. “It’s great to see that and it’s a testament to all of the great coaches and staff coming out of Gallagher that you get to have an experience with.”
Some things never change. And for a program with as rich of a history as Indiana, plucking recruits out of St. Louis doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon.
“I think the word in St. Louis is ‘go to Indiana,’” Bruin said. “To me it seems like that’s the thing to do. If you have the opportunity to go and play at the next level and play in college and have the opportunity to play at Indiana, you take it.”