Pattonville High School senior Miguel “Miggy” Perez can say something that no one else at school can say — he’s a professional soccer player. In February, Perez signed a three-year Major League Soccer (MLS) homegrown contract to play on the St. Louis City SC team as a midfielder. A MLS homegrown contract allows teams to sign local players from their own development academies.
“It’s always been my dream to play professional soccer, but playing for my hometown, it’s even more special because I can inspire little kids and keep letting them know that it’s possible,” Perez said.
To date, Perez has played in all three of the team’s games, including the St. Louis home opener on March 4. He’s logged a total of 99 minutes, including starting in the game on March 11 against the Portland Timbers in Oregon. City SC is currently undefeated and is only the second expansion team in MLS history to start 3-0. Perez also has a record that’s all his own — he is the first St. Louisan to play for the team and, as of the game on March 11, he’s the first St. Louisian to start for City SC. (Scroll down to see recent updates.)
Miguel Perez, holding certificate, is shown with family and friends at the March 14 board meeting.
Perez started playing soccer in kindergarten at Holy Spirit and played for local clubs JB Marine Academy and St. Louis Scott Gallagher. He was part of the soccer club at Remington Traditional School and played with the high school team for two years. During his freshman year, the team won districts. His sophomore year was cut short due to the pandemic. By junior year, he was playing with City.
In 2021, Perez was one of the first players named to St. Louis City SC’s academy teams, part of the MLS NEXT program. At the time, he was identified as one of the area’s top athletes and was predicted to be a player who could be on the team’s first MLS roster. He made history by scoring the club’s first goal during its first game, with the team beating the Chicago Fire 4-3. Perez also made seven appearances for the academy’s UPSL (United Premier Soccer League) squad, including a two-goal performance in the team’s 5-4 loss in the conference playoff semifinals.
While he hasn’t scored with City SC just yet, he’s given thought to what he’ll do when he does score his first goal – run to the corner and knee slide.
“I watch a lot of professional games,” Perez said. “(Cristiano) Ronaldo. (Lionel) Messi. You watch those guys play and then I try to take their skills and implement them in my game. That’s what I tried to do.”
St. Louis has welcomed the introduction of professional soccer to the city, with the first home game selling out all 22,500 seats. Perez, who’s been featured on various news outlets and whose picture is on AppleTV’s MLS banner, gets noticed when he walks down the halls at Pattonville High School. He’s had a few people come up and ask if he’s the pro MLS City SC soccer player. And while Perez is just 17 years old and still attending high school classes, when he goes to training, he is surrounded by players, some who are almost double his age.
“After school, I go to training and then they all make fun of me, saying things like, ‘You gotta go back to school,’ ” Perez said. “But this is just going out there and working hard to try to get on the roster and make a spot, that’s all I do really.”
And, after training, Perez indeed goes home to complete homework. That is until he graduates this May.
Update: May 27
Just two days after graduating, Perez scored his first MLS goal in the match against Vancouver. Perez entered the match in the 73rd minute and, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Perez clinched the game by scoring an unassisted goal. City won 3-1. In attendance were 50 Pattonville staff and families members who were attending as part of seating block. Read more here.
Update: March 17
Perez was named to the United States Under-19 Men’s Youth National Team. Perez will join the U-19s following CITY SC’s match against San Jose on Saturday. The team will have its training camp located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from March 20 through March 28, and will play two games. Perez will miss St. Louis’s match against Real Salt Lake on March 25 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Follow the team's journey here.
Update: March 18
City SC won it fourth consecutive match on March 18 at home. Perez entered the game at the 65 minute mark. In addition, City SC made history with its win against San Jose Earthquakes, becoming the first MLS expansion club to start the season with a perfect 4-0-0 record.
Update: March 26
City SC won its fifth match, this time against Real Salt Lake. Perez was not in the lineup due to training for the US-19 Men's Youth National Team.
Update: March 27
The U.S. U-19 team played two games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, first against Argentina’s U-17 team and then against a local club. Perez came on at halftime of the first game. In the second game in Argentina, Perez started and scored in the 19 minute to help secure the 2-0 win vs. Racing Club.
Update: May 9
Perez scored his first professional goal on May 9 in the Open Cup game against Chicago Fire in Illinois. His goal came in the 93rd minute. “It was very special for me to score my first goal and with my family being here as well,” he said in an interview with the Post-Dispatch. “I'm blessed to score my first goal, but unlucky for the result.” It was the only goal by the team, which lost 2-1. With his goal, Perez is now City SC's youngest goal scorer at 18 years and 11 days old.
Watch the Interview
Miguel Perez, who was a student at Remington Traditional School, sat down with Remington second grader Evan Barth ahead of the team’s first home match to talk about his experience as a student-athlete. See the player below to watch the video.