Player spotlight

After strong season in St Louis, Gioacchini looking to help Como in promotion effort

Nicholas Gioacchini was one of many Americans who made a move during the January transfer window as he was sold by St. Louis City to Como in Serie B. ASN's Brian Sciaretta spoke with Gioacchini about his time in St. Louis and the promotional race with Como. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
February 02, 2024
10:35 AM

TWO YEARS AGO, Nicholas Gioacchini was at a crossroads in his career after a tough run in France with Caen and Montpellier. At that point, he decided his career needed a reset and he returned to his home country to play for Orlando SC. But when that reset didn’t work and he was left unprotected in the MLS expansion draft, he found a perfect landing spot with the league’s newest team, St. Louis SC ahead of their 2023 season.

Gioacchini was born in Missouri and soccer took him home. It wasn’t part of his initial plan to be returning home so early, but St. Louis offered him an opportunity and he took full advantage of it. In 2023, St. Louis CITY was fun to watch, and the stadiums were full every game. Most importantly, they won a lot and finished first in the Western Conference. Despite an early playoff ouster, St. Louis exceeded all expectations.

But Gioacchini was part of it all, and he scored 10 goals that season across 32 appearances. That season attracted the interest of Como 1907, which was in the middle of a promotion push in Serie B. Then shortly after the new years, Gioacchini received a call from Cesc Fabregas who was Como’s coach at the time but has since shifted to an assistant coaching role due to coaching license issues.

“I found about the move just over two weeks before I signed,” Gioacchini told American Soccer Now from Como. “I actually got a call from my agent saying Como has an interest, and what do you think? I said let's hop on a phone call and talk about it. We immediately hopped on a phone call with Cesc Fabregas and the CEO. They explained to me the project and what they were expecting.. what they want me to do and what the team's objective is.  Which was something that I was looking forward to. It's something that I know I can help get accomplished. In that there was obviously the talk on my development. It was a step that I wanted to take in order to grow.”


Last week the move was completed and Gioacchini was formally announced. Como paid a significant transfer fee for him (reportedly $2.1 million with add-ons) but playing time will not be easy as the club has a strong list of forwards. Patrick Cutrone, 26, has nine goals and is third in scoring with Serie B, and Alessandro Gabrielloni, 29, has five goals. But also last week, the club announced the signing of Jean-Pierre Nsame who was a member of Cameroon’s 2022 World Cup team and who scored 109 goals in 175 games in the Swiss Super League with Young Boys.

 “He will offer something different to compliment Cutrone and Gabrielloni," manager Osian Roberts said. "Niko can play as a center forward and a winger, giving us essential options as the season progresses.”

“There's going to be competition everywhere all the time,” Gioacchini said of the club’s competition at the No. 9 position.


Como is a team with big plans under its current ownership group, Indonesian company Djarum Group. They currently play in an old stadium (built upon the request of Benito Mussolini) right on the edge of the magnificent Lake Como. There are plans for a new stadium and the club is pushing to return to Serie A for the first time since 2002/03.

“This was my choice was almost instant, despite what my season had been in St. Louis,” Gioacchini said. “That's no way going to be swept under the rug because it was an incredible year, probably the best year of my life. At least in the top two. Besides that, in the global spectrum of what I want to accomplish. I saw this as my next move.”

The years since its last top flight have been tumultuous with relegations down to Serie D, two bankruptcies, being put up for auction, and being forced to restart in Serie D as recently as 2017. Right now, it seems as if it is only a matter of time before they play again in Serie A.

When Gioacchini was in France, he participated in a tough but ultimately successful relegation battle with SM Caen. Now he will have the chance to play in a promotion effort as the club sits in fourth place in a league where the top two teams are automatically promoted and places three through eight goes to the playoffs for the remaining ticket to Serie A.

“I'm here to do what I do in order to help that happen,” Gioacchini said of Como’s promotional hopes. “I missed that pressure. That pressure of this can change the lives of many people. In Caen, it was the opposite. If we had gone to the third division, that would have been catastrophic. And here if we get promoted, I wouldn't even know how to explain it, to be honest. But I think you get the gist of it.”

Adjustment to playing Italy should not be difficult for Gioacchini who lived in the country for four years during his childhood while his father worked in his native Parma. Gioacchini is fluent in Italian and is well versed in the country’s culture.

On the field, Italian soccer is among the most intense in the world and playing there has always been a top goal for him.

“It's a culture that I missed, both on and off the field,” Gioacchini said of Italian soccer. “On the field it’s different in a way but it gives me the same reaction. I love the competitiveness, the trash talk, the willingness to go to extremes to win. That's what matters… It's a dirty game. I don't see any sport as a clean game. It's it has that dirtiness to it... And I think that is a big plus when it comes to football.”

Looking back, Gioacchini is appreciative of his brief but successful time in St. Louis where he had his first 2000-minute season and reset his experience after a tough run with Montpellier and later Orlando City. He ended up at the club by chance after Orlando did not protect him from the expansion draft and St. Louis quickly selected him and incorporated him into their plans.

This success allowed him to quickly return to Europe.

“The ownership group, the staff, the technical director, especially Lutz [Pfannenstiel], because they gave me a renewal opportunity - a way to come back into the industry,” Gioacchini said of St. Louis CITY. “I'd say because I'd been, I wouldn't say lost, but a little forgotten about, because of situations in my past clubs. This really gave me a way to get back in and get the opportunity to show what I have to show and bounce back to Europe.”

“Coming back to the MLS was not my wish back at the time when I signed for Orlando - it was something that I had to do,” he added. “But everything turns out how it's supposed to turn out. I'm someone who believes in destiny.”

Gioacchini is quick to point out that his goals are to play in the world’s top leagues, which are all in Europe. But he also left with the belief that MLS is improving quickly compared with the brief stint he spent with DC United’s academy when he was in high school.

“It's exciting to see, especially being someone who was born in the US,” Gioacchini said of MLS. “It definitely improved - infrastructures, organization, just player level, coaching level. It's definitely better. I think in a year and a half, it's not enough to really get a hold of it... It is improving at a rather rapid rate. “And I think that it is going to be one of the top attractions later on. But, in my opinion, Europe is still ahead,” he added.

Internationally, Gioacchini has eight caps with the U.S. national team but has been away from the program since being part of the 2021 Gold Cup winning team. Returning to the team will completely depend on how he performs for Como.

The good news for Gioacchini is that Como can offer him a visible stage, especially if it is promoted to Serie A. On the other hand, the U.S. team is currently very deep at striker with Folarin Balogun and Ricardo Pepi have been the team’s top options over the past year but behind them there are other players performing well including Josh Sargent, Daryl Dike, Jesus Ferreira, Jordan Pefok, Haji Wright, Brandon Vazquez, along with Duncan McGuire coming from the U-23 team.

Last fall, the United States national was in St. Louis to play a friendly against Uzbekistan. Gioacchini spoke with Gregg Berhalter there about what it would take for him to rejoin the team.

“He just said to keep doing what you're doing and do better,” Gioacchini said of Berhalter. “He's totally right. I have to do better. So that's something where I am looking forward to getting another opportunity. But obviously his calls will come from my personal performances with my club. There's no way around it.”

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