MLS soccer stadium rally at Ballpark Village

(From left) Dan Flynn, Jim Kavanaugh, Paul Edgerley, Terry C. Matlack, and St. Louis native and former MLS star Taylor Twellman, look out from backstage at the cheering crowd of soccer supporters during a rally at Ballpark Village in St. Louis in March. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

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Five topics from columnist Ben Frederickson that St. Louis sports fans should be discussing:

1. Flynn's fingerprints on St. Louis MLS team

The retiring CEO of the U.S. Soccer Federation joining the leadership team of the St. Louis MLS team is trending toward when-not-if territory.

Dan Flynn's "unofficial" role as an adviser to the MLS4TheLou ownership group during the expansion effort was more than a hint that the St. Louis native and longtime U.S. Soccer executive was in the process of shifting career gears.

Flynn was on hand, in suit and tie, for the announcement of the expansion team. He was with the ownership group throughout the process that made that announcement happen. And now the news of his retirement from U.S. Soccer is official. No more potential conflict of interest.

Then came this quote from MLS commissioner Don Garber, who reportedly told Flynn at his last U.S. Soccer board meeting: 'I look forward to you yelling at me all the time in your new role."

The title of that new role in St. Louis is not yet known. It's safe to say Flynn's fingerprints will be on the soccer operations side in some significant capacity.

Here's what MLS4TheLou ownership group leader Jim Kavanaugh had to say about the potential of bringing Flynn into the fold officially when I asked him about it at the expansion announcement:

"Dan is just an incredibly qualified guy that could be a great part of our leadership team," Kavanaugh said on Aug. 20. "We haven't finalized anything. But we like Dan a lot. There is a chance he could end up being part of the team."

2. Tracking Goldschmidt's September power

Cardinals fans would love to see their first baseman treat September like he did July, when team-leading homer-hitter Paul Goldschmidt slugged .725, clobbered 11 home runs and produced 11 RBIs.

A more realistic hope might be that Goldschmidt treats September better than his previous Septembers.

Goldschmidt is slashing .259/.342/.463 on the season.

His September line (so far) reads .281/.452/.469.

The on-base percentage is very impressive. The slugging percentage is something to watch. For Goldschmidt, the former is higher than the latter over the span of his last 50 at-bats.

Goldschmidt has one home run in his last 79 at-bats, and zero in his last 55. Of his 14 hits since Aug. 25, eight have been singles.

In a season that is on pace to produce the lowest on-base plus slugging percentage of his career (.804) Goldschmidt's home runs have been the spackle that covers some of his hitting holes. Recent Septembers have not been kind to Goldschmidt's power.

Here is Goldschmidt's career batting line: .293/.391/.524.

Here is Goldschmidt's career batting line in September: .272/.365/.465.

Here are Goldschmidt's September batting lines and home run totals over the past five seasons ...

September 2015: .264/.379/.517 (five HR)

September 2016: .283/.371/.465 (four HR)

September 2017: .175/.256/.313 (three HR)

September 2018: .273/.347/.443 (two HR)

3. Sterk: NCAA news could be delayed until October

Mizzou athletics director Jim Sterk previously hoped Barry Odom's football team would know by the end of this month if the NCAA decided to eliminate a postseason ban after considering the school's appeal of the sanctions handed down from an academic misconduct investigation. Now, he's not so sure. Early October might be the better bet, Sterk said during his weekly interview on The Big Sports Show on KTRS.

"It's maybe not as imminent as when I talked to you last," Sterk said. "BYU had a hearing. They started a month before us as far as the appeal's in-person hearing. And they just heard last week. Given that, it may be later September, or October. It may go into that (October.) You hate to have it linger, but it may be that length of time . . . The coaches are prepared. We have a game plan as far as releasing it. We are hoping for good news there."

And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

4. SEC boss Sankey enjoys trip to Mizzou

Here's what SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said about Mizzou's fit in the SEC during his trip to Columbia for the Tigers' win against West Virginia. The quote comes from Sankey's appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show, which was in town for the game along with Sankey.

“I was here in March for an event honoring a Nobel laureate in chemistry," Sankey said. "We've had a number in the league, but that's something that Missouri brings. The School of Journalism, they bring. You look at what's happened to the football stadium since they’ve been in the SEC. That's a credit to all of us. I just saw the last episode of “Saturdays in the South,” and I said to (chancellor) Alex (Cartwright), ‘You know, you weren't here for the first seven episodes, but then that last one, they made an impact.’ Won two East Division championships. When Johnny (Manziel) was playing quarterback at A&M, I was here for the game (in 2013), when they're not supposed to do this, but they rushed the field after winning the game and having won the East. So, I think it's been a real seamless transition. I think there has been an embrace. Obviously, some issues on campus in 2015 and some leadership changes. But that’s sorted out with Jim Sterk now setting a firm base. Look what Barry (Odom) has done in football, dealing with this NCAA penalty that's under appeal and not having any member of this team leave. That's a credit to a healthy culture, a healthy locker room, great support and very different from what was experienced in that 2015-16 time frame."

In addition to attending the game, Sankey had meetings with Cartwright and Sterk. He even jumped into action as the celebrity drum-banger for Big Mo. (Sterk probably wishes Sankey would bang the drum a little harder for the Tigers' ongoing fight against the NCAA.)

5. The Bearded Wonder?

Maybe Lovie Smith finally has something going at Illinois. A win against Eastern Michigan on Saturday would give the Illini their first 3-0 start since 2011, when they won six straight and beat UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl for win No. 7. Since, Illini fans have been starving for a winning season.

Sure, the first two wins of the season came against an Akron team that lost to UAB by 11, and a UConn team that beat Wagner by three.

And sure, the third win would come against Eastern Michigan, which got doubled up by a Kentucky team that lost its starting quarterback during the game.

But 3-0 is 3-0, and when 3-0 has not happened since Ron Zook was at the wheel, 3-0 matters.

There's something to be said for winning the games you put on your schedule to win. Mizzou can't say the same this season.

Ben Frederickson

@Ben_Fred on Twitter

bfrederickson@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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