Members of the Pattonville community were in the stands at CityPark to see recent 2023 graduate Miguel “Miggy” Perez score his first MLS goal during the City SC match. This spring, the Pattonville School District inquired about getting a block of seats for a match to support VilleMade and Homegrown midfielder. It just so happened that 50 seats for the match on May 27 — just two days after graduation — were available. Those 50 tickets were offered to Pattonville High School staff, students and families via a random draw raffle system. In total, 16 families were able to purchase tickets to the match. The game, against Vancouver, ended with City winning 3-1 and Perez scoring in the fourth minute of stoppage time in the second half.
Perez entered the match in the 73rd minute. The Pattonville block, along with the rest of the stadium, erupted in cheers. When Perez came in, the score was 2-0, City. About 10 minutes later, Vancouver scored its first goal of the match, closing the gap to 2-1. But in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Perez clinched the game by scoring an unassisted goal.
“It was a very special moment for me and my family as well; they were here,” Perez said in an interview with MLS 360 after the match. “I couldn’t do it without my teammates and the fans. When it went in, I looked to my left because that’s where I was going, but my family is to the right. I had to run to them and show them love and then the fans after, they were amazing.”
The block of seats with Pattonville families was located in section 200, which provided the perfect sightline for Perez’s goal, which he scored in the net at that end of the field. The goal came after Eduard Löwen’s free kick was deflected at the corner by the Vancouver goalkeeper almost directly to Tomáš Ostrák, who saw Perez running to the box and lobbed it to him. Perez scored cleanly in the top corner of the open goal.
“It was so special to be there for Miguel's first goal as a member of the Pattonville high school community,” high school English learner teacher Sarah Hollstrom said. “The staff at the high school has been so excited getting to watch his progress as a part of the City team this year, so getting to be there in person to see his first MLS goal alongside many of my colleagues and their families was a really special moment.”
When she was waiting to get on the MetroLink to get to the stadium, Hollstrom was looking around the platform and came face-to-face with a massive picture of Perez in an ad for MetroLink recommending exactly what she was doing — taking public transportation to the match.
“It's moments like this that remind me of how amazing his journey has been,” she said. “One day you're saying good morning to a student in the hallway, and the next evening you're seeing him on advertisements! All of his successes just make the faculty at PHS feel like we're getting the privilege to watch something truly special play out. We are so proud of him. Even though he has graduated and we won't be seeing him in the hallways anymore, we will all still be supporting him. Miguel has such a strong community of people at PHS who are wishing the absolute best for him, and we hope he has a long, successful career playing for his hometown.”
In addition to the block from Pattonville High School, a number of other Pattonville students and staff were in attendance. One of those staff members was Bridgeway Elementary School fifth grade teacher Alex Buerck, who has season tickets. He was attending the game with his fiance Grace Burgos, who teaches fifth grade at Rose Acres Elementary School, as well as Andrew Mahtani, Bridgeway’s social emotional support specialist.
“It was awesome,” Buerck said. “Every time Miguel has entered into the game, my group and I always make sure to remind the section where he goes to school. So, we were once again stoked when he entered the game late on Saturday. Whenever the third goal went in, the section started cheering and jumping around like usual. But it was almost like everyone all at once was turning to people around them and asking ‘Was that Miggy? Did Miggy get that one?!’ Then it seemed to get even louder, which I didn't think was possible. It was actually kind of emotional. I'm grateful I had the opportunity to see it live in person with my fiance and two friends that I went to Pattonville with a decade ago. I can't even imagine what he must have been feeling because I was in disbelief.”
Two days removed from graduation, the goal came as its own type of graduation gift. Compared to the other graduation gifts Perez has received, this was unique. Perez was able to keep the ball that scored, which will find a home in his room in a display case.
“I think tonight was very special,” Perez said in an interview after the match. “My first goal, I didn’t know what to think. It was amazing. That was a crazy moment.”
Perez became the second Homegrown player in the club’s history after signing a three-year MLS contract in early 2023. To date, he has played in 11 games and started in five games. Perez got his first professional goal in the US Open Cup. Currently, City SC has a 8-4-1 record and is ranked second in the western conference.
“My dream is to play in Europe in the big-time leagues over there,” Perez said. “But right now I’m just focusing on what I’m doing now and trying to get better.” He said he also plans to take some online college courses as well.
Watch the Reactions
See members of the Pattonville community react to 2023 graduate and City SC midfielder Miguel Perez entering the game and his first MLS goal.
Perez enters the match
See the Goal
👨🎓 Graduate on Thursday— St Louis CITY SC (@stlCITYsc) May 28, 2023
⚽️ FIRST MLS GOAL ON SATURDAY pic.twitter.com/VcYXc9h3LU
Perez has been featured in multiple stories centered around graduation. A few of those stories are linked below.