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Match Preview: Sporting KC opens up US Open Cup with Minnesota United FC

We interrupt this World Cup to bring you your club team.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

United States

Sporting Kansas City

The World Cup break could not have come at a better time for Sporting Kansas City as many of their players were falling to injuries. They were the equivalent of a old, beatup car that you're just hoping will make it to the gas station in their last game, a 2-0 win over Houston. They'll be missing Benny Feilhaber to injury and the World Cup players as well. They will probably start a healthy mix of starters and reserves for this match with no MLS matches to worry about until next week, so they'll come out in pretty good shape.

Minnesota United FC

Minnesota United FC is one of the toughest draws Sporting KC could have gotten for the fourth round. They won the NASL Spring Championship a couple of weeks ago, finishing a point above the New York Cosmos. They feature one of the more potent offenses from NASL, scoring 16 goals in nine games. They have, however, given up nine goals in as many games so their defense is a little suspect. They defeated the Des Moines Menace 1-0 in the third round to make it to this match, scoring a late winner after controlling most of the match.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Andy Gruenebaum

The Overland Park native will finally get a chance to start in goal for his hometown team, as confirmed already by the KC Star's Sam McDowell. Gruenebaum came from Columbus where he had some good results, including a spectacular 2012 that saw him finish second in the Keeper of the Year votes. If Minnesota United FC decides to bunker and spring on a counter, it will be up to Gruenebaum to be as big a presence in the box as possible. His performance could be a large say in who ends up the winner in this match, especially if the match goes to penalties.

Minnesota United FC- Christian Ramirez

Ramirez has been the biggest offensive producer for Minnesota United FC this spring, scoring five goals and assisting four more. The 23 year old forward was also subbed on late for Minnesota United FC against Des Moines and scored the game winner for the NASL side. We saw what a dangerous forward can do against a reserve Sporting KC team last year, so Ramirez will be one to look after if they are going to keep Minnesota United FC off the board.

Why They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC has the unfortunate burden of having to play some of their normal starters in this match simply due to lack of depth or too much depth. This includes Claudio Bieler at center forward, Lawrence Olum at either centerback or defensive midfielder, and Igor Julio at right back. They should have enough defensive prowess to stop the Minnesota attack and their pressure should be able to overwhelm the Loon's defense. Their burden will become their asset for this match, and the World Cup break allows them to be rested for next week's Portland match.

Minnesota United FC

Last year, Orlando City sprung on a counter early and Long Tan was able to put the Lions up 1-0. From there, Orlando bunkered and Sporting KC could not get a goal in. Minnesota has the ability to do the same thing here with the dangerous Ramirez up top. If he can get an early goal, Minnesota can bunker and wait to spring on a counter. Should they be embroiled in a draw, they can still wait for a counter and Ramirez has the ability to get behind defenses. There is a very good chance Minnesota United FC leaves with a win.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City: Gruenebaum; Juliao, Palmer-Brown, Collin, Sinovic; Olum, Martinez, Medranda; Sapong, Bieler, Peterson.

Minnesota United FC: Mitch Hildebrandt; Michael Reed, Cristiano Dias, Brent Kallman, Tyler Polak; Mozzi Gyorio, Kentaro Takada, Omar Daley, Floyd Franks, Jamie Watson; Christian Ramirez,

Scoreline

Sporting KC 2-1 Minnesota United FC