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Head coach Bradley Carnell joins St. Louis CITY SC with immigration support from Thompson Coburn

January 24, 2022

Fatima Khan
Fatima Khan

In Germany and his home city of Johannesburg, South Africa, pro soccer veteran Bradley Carnell hit the pitch as a renowned defender who made three starts for South Africa in 2002 World Cup matches. In St. Louis, Carnell took up a new title earlier this month: The first-ever head coach of St. Louis CITY SC, the region’s soon-to-be-launched Major League Soccer team. 

The 44-year-old coach’s new job was made possible in part thanks to the work of Thompson Coburn’s national immigration practice, which secured for Carnell and his family an O-1 nonimmigrant visa, reserved for individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements. 

Over the last year, Thompson Coburn has successfully secured for St. Louis CITY SC several other O-1 visa approvals for the team’s elite soccer coaches, trainers and recruiters. 

Our immigration team provides creative, personalized, high-quality immigration advice to corporations throughout the U.S. and abroad. Our immigration attorneys work with large and small, domestic and international businesses in a wide range of industry sectors, to develop and implement comprehensive immigration strategies.

“We’re delighted to help our client St. Louis CITY SC lay the groundwork for their MLS team,” said Thompson Coburn partner Fatima Khan, who leads the Firm’s immigration practice. “When we provide guidance through the complex visa process, it allows our clients to seek and retain the top talent they need, whether for a professional sports team, a research lab, a college or university, or another workplace. We warmly congratulate Bradley and St. Louis CITY SC on this fantastic hire.”

Carnell comes to St. Louis from the New York Red Bulls, where he served as an assistant coach for five seasons and spent time as the interim head coach in 2020. Lutz Pfannenstiel, the sporting director for St. Louis CITY SC, told Sports Illustrated this week that he and Carnell share a commitment to “gegenpressing,” a German term for “an ultra-aggressive, high-pressing approach designed to produce goals in transition.” 

“Scouting and recruitment are going to be key, if not the most important pillars we have to play and grow early on,” Carnell told Sports Illustrated about his immediate plans as head coach. “We’ll be slowly coaching the coaches, getting everybody on the same page. If there’s a common identity and unity along all those structures, that puts us in good stead to start off in a good way.”

Thompson Coburn represented the majority-female ownership group that successfully brought an MLS team to St. Louis. Our legal team continues to counsel the ownership group and burgeoning soccer club on a variety of matters, including trademark and copyright, corporate and contractual issues, real estate, environmental considerations and employment matters.