Gadi Kinda was the hero for Sporting Kansas City as the visiting side took home three points in a smash-and-grab 1-0 win over Minnesota United FC. This was Sporting KC’s third win in four matches and a huge boost to their chances of making the playoffs.
It took awhile for either side to break through, as the two sides went more than 80 minutes scoreless, however there were still several chances on both sides.
In the 12th minute, Daniel Salloi sent in a cross that was almost too far for Johnny Russell, but he chested it down and found an opening close to the near post, but blasted his shot over the bar.
The next set of chances for Sporting KC came in the 32nd minute. On a corner sent in by Salloi, Pulido got the ball at the top of the six yard box and headed it just wide. This was set up by Erik Thommy having a go from 25 yards out which forced a save from Dayne St. Clair.
Toward the end of the first half Minnesota earned several chances. In the 38th minute, Emanuel Reynoso found some space and unleashed a shot from 20 yards out which required a diving save from Melia to keep the match scoreless. Just a couple of minutes later, Minnesota earned a tantalizing opportunity when Andreu Fontas cut down Bongokuhle Hlongwane just outside the side of the box, earning himself a yellow card in the process. Reynoso’s ensuing free kick curled toward goal but Melia was there to parry it away.
This would be the end of the first half, as the teams went into the locker room scoreless.
In the 55th minute Minnesota had another free kick just outside the box, nearly parallel with the goal. Reynoso again was the free kick taker and decided to curl it right toward the goal, where Melia was there once more to save.
But it was in the 66th minute that Minnesota came ever so close to score. Teemu Pukki shook his defender and found a vast area of space near the post, where he sent over a quick cross on the ground to Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, whose one-touch shot was headed toward goal but blocked by the head of Jake Davis, and over the goal for a corner kick.
The 74th minute saw the Loons come even closer. Reynoso nutmugged Ndenbe and found himself with a world of space into the box as he advanced toward the post. With Melia drawn in, Reynoso crossed over to Pukki near the top of the box who put his attempt right on goal but it was Melia once again there to save, keeping the match still scoreless.
Minnesota finally put a ball in the net in the 79th minute when a curling free kick from 35 yards out was headed in by Michael Boxall, but he was just offside, providing the visitors a breath of relief.
And that breath of relief would soon turn into triumph. Roger Espinoza near the center circle found Gadi Kinda just behind the Minnesota defense running into the box. Kinda was patient enough to shake two Loon defenders and found an opening to put the ball into the net for the opening goal of the match. It was his third goal and put Sporting KC into the lead with only ten minutes left to defend.
Despite a couple of nervy moments with Minnesota attacking with all their might, Sporting KC held strong and was able to hold on to the 1-0 victory. With five matches to go, Sporting still needs several wins to reach the playoffs, but this result was a big step toward that goal. Up next is a midweek match against Nashville SC at home this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.