Sporting KC @ Minnesota United
When: Saturday, Sept 16, 2023 at 7:30 PM CT (7:39 kickoff)
Where: Allianz Field
How to Watch/Stream: Apple MLS Season Pass
Sporting Kansas City dropped some very important points this past weekend. In fact, they’ve dropped 20 points from a winning position in 2023, the most in Major League Soccer. Those 20 points would move Sporting KC from 12th place (32 points through 28 games) all the way to first in the Western Conference.
Sure, it’s extreme to think they’d drop zero points, but it’s not unreasonable to think they’d be in the playoff race. As things stand now, they are two points behind 9th place FC Dallas (who have two games in hand), five points behind 8th place San Jose and five behind 7th place Minnesota United (who have one game in hand).
With Sporting KC headed to Minnesota this week (and the return trip coming in a few weeks on Decision Day), these are true six-point games where Kansas City can control their fate to a certain extent. Because so many teams get into the playoffs, it’s not possible for every single result to go against SKC, so if they win, they have control.
Winning on the road is a tall task. I stupidly predicted Sporting KC would beat Inter Miami last weekend in Fort Lauderdale, but of course they lost. They’ve got a 1-7-6 road record in 2023. Just a single win in 14 (!!!) tries.
Three of Sporting KC’s remaining six games are on the road (Minnesota, St. Louis and Real Salt Lake). As if those games aren’t tough enough, the home games are also against teams above the playoff line (Minnesota, Nashville, Houston). The math is pretty grim for Sporting KC.
Minnesota’s Recent Form
- August 20th @ NYCFC — 2-0 Win
- Aug. 27th vs. Seattle Sounders — 1-1 Draw
- Aug. 30th vs. Colorado Rapids — 3-0 Win
- September 2nd @ San Jose Earthquakes — 1-1 Draw
- Sept. 9th vs. New England Revolution — 1-1 Draw
You have to go back a sixth game to find a loss (5-0 to Nashville in the Leagues Cup). Before that though, they beat Toluca on PKs (something Sporting KC couldn’t do) and enjoyed a nice run in the Leagues Cup overall.
What’s new for Minnesota?
Our non-rival neighbors to the North have made some pretty big moves, really turning over their roster between seasons (full list here). And lately it’s been paying off.
IN: Teemu Pukki is the biggest name on the list. Coming over from Norwich City (via free transfer) and hoping to be the answer at striker the team has been looking for over the last few years. The Finnish striker has been a prolific goal scorer for most of his career and already has three in seven appearances for MNUFC.
The team also just traded for their former DP, Jan Gregus, and brought in Caden Clark from RB Leipzig. All those moves were just in the summer window. In the proper offseason they added defender Miguel Tapias (Pachuca) and Sang Big Jeong (Wolverhampton Wolves), among others.
OUT: The ‘out’ list isn’t nearly as impressive. Some names you may recognize are defenders Romain Metanire and Kemar Lawrence. They sold Luis Amarilla (Mazatlan) and declined the option on Abu Danladi, two of their many failed striker signing attempts.
- OUT – Ryen Jiba (knee), Robin Lod (knee), Kervin Arriaga (knee)
- QUESTIONABLE – None
Sporting KC: None
- Suspended Next Yellow: None
- Suspended Next Yellow: None
Goals: Alan Pulido (13), Daniel Salloi (7), Erik Thommy, Johnny Russell (4), Gadi Kinda, Dany Rosero (2), Willy Agada, Felipe Hernandez, Robert Castellanos, Khiry Shelton, Remi Walter (1)
Assists: Erik Thommy (10), Daniel Salloi (6), Gadi Kinda, Remi Walter (4), Tim Leibold, Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell, Nemanja Radoja (3), Jake Davis (2), Roger Espinoza, Marinos Tzionis, Graham Zusi, Andreu Fontas, Robert Voloder (1)
Goals: Hlongwane, Emanuel Reynoso (6), Mender Garcia, Teemu Pukki (3),
Luis Amarilla, Kervin Arriaga (2), nine with one (1)
Assists: Hlongwane, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (3), Arriaga, Hasani Dotson, Garcia, Robin Lod, Reynoso, Valentin (2), five with one (1)
I don’t trust Sporting KC. They consistently get our hopes up looking like world beaters for moments and then they come crashing back down to earth. We all know their horrific 10-game stretch to start the season undid the whole dang year. But their losses at home (five of them) and their inability to win on the road (the previously mentioned one road win) are killing them.
The one silver lining is Minnesota are weirdly poor at home. They are just 3-2-8. So, the door is open, but I don’t foresee Sporting KC running through it. They’ll probably get a road draw just to get your hopes up and then let them slip away again.
PREDICTION: 1-1 Draw