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Sporting KC at Minnesota United: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI

The best team in the West hits the road for their third game in eight days against an MLS expansion club.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Sporting KC at Minnesota United Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ Minnesota United (#MINvSKC)

Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 12:30 PM CT

Fox Sports 1 | fuboTV

Today’s match-up between Minnesota United and Sporting Kansas City will not be the first time these two clubs have ever met. They have played two US Open Cup matches in recent years with SKC coming out on top in both of them. However, this does mark the first MLS regular season meeting between the clubs. Sporting are a pretty impressive 8-2-3 when facing a MLS expansion team for the first time.

Sporting are currently in terrific form coming off back-to-back victories. In fact, today’s game marks the third game in eight days for the club and Sporting are right in the middle of a six game, 21-day run of games.

This meeting does feel like a clash of two teams headed in separate directions. Sporting KC just climbed into first place in the MLS Western Conference midweek with a win over the New York Red Bulls and Minnesota sit in ninth place in the West. It should be noted, Minnesota will probably win MLS Cup because the Seattle Sounders were in ninth last year at this time. OK, maybe not.

Minnesota’s Offseason

Minnesota have had quite a makeover since last season, which they spent in the NASL. They of course picked up players in the MLS expansion draft, acquired former SKC man Bernardo Anor and most notably traded for Kevin Molino for a ton of General Allocation money.

One key may be the players they brought with them from the NASL. Their leading scorer, Christian Ramirez, came with the club and didn’t even start on opening day, but has cemented himself there. The team also brought back former player Miguel Ibarra as a part of their inaugural team.

Another key move for United was the trade that brought Sam Cronin and Marc Burch over from Colorado. They have definitely tightened up a defense that was leaking goals at a record pace and have left Colorado worse without those two.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Diego Rubio (torn ACL)

QUESTIONABLE: None

Minnesota United

OUT: Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury)

QUESTIONABLE: Marc Burch (left hip injury), Collin Martin (right thigh injury), Rasmus Schuller (hip injury)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None (Seth Sinovic and Dom Dwyer suspended next yellow card)

Minnesota United - None

Recent Form

Sporting KC - Last Five: W/W/L/W/W (12 Points)

Minnesota United - Last Five: W/L/D/W/L (7 Points)

Leading Scorers

  • Sporting KC: Dom Dwyer (5), Benny Feilhaber, Gerso Fernandes (2)
  • Minnesota United: Christian Ramirez (5), Kevin Molino (3)

Starting XI Predictions

Rest of the 18: Dykstra, Zusi, Mustivar, Blessing, Opara, Feilhaber, Saad

I don’t even know why I try to predict a Starting XI anymore. Vermes never changes things from game to game. I was tempted to say he’ll keep things the same yet again but these guys need some rest.

One guy in particular stands out: Ike Opara. So far in 2017 Ike has played 720 minutes (otherwise known as all of them). That is more minutes than Opara played combined in 2014 and 2015. Combined! He needs rest and with Erik Palmer-Brown on loan to Swope Park, that leaves only Kevin Ellis as an option.

If Vermes does go with Ellis it’ll be the first minute that hasn’t had Sinovic, Besler and Zusi together on the backline with Opara. They have literally played a full 90 minutes every single game so far. If they are going to rest Opara, they might as well rest Zusi too which could open the door for Igor Juliao or Saad Abdul-Salaam, though SAS wasn’t even in the 18 against the Red Bulls. Juliao has been practicing with Ellis, so they could be paired, though I’d prefer Abdul-Salaam for his stronger defense.

Beyond that I’m just making one other substitution and that’s resting Benny Feilhaber. Medranda will slide back into the midfield and Daniel Salloi (or Soony Saad or Latif Blessing) can slide into his spot. I can’t wait to see how bad these predictions are. It’ll probably just be the same lineup it always is.

It should be noted, the fan voting was much closer than it usually is. All the regular starters still won the poll with the exception of Medranda starting on the wing. It was a tie between Blessing and Saad to replace him. Outside of that Ellis, Abdul-Salaam, Mustivar and Medranda got lots of votes to start in defensive and midfield roles.

As for who wins this thing. All signs point towards Sporting KC being the team that should win. That said, with all these games in a row and either tired legs or new players on the pitch who haven’t had time together, it seems like a recipe for an upset. Minnesota have gotten dramatically better than they were at the beginning of the season and this is a road game. While SKC have only allowed a single road goal, they’ve only scored one as well.

Plus, Adrian Heath, Minnesota’s head coach, knows Dom Dwyer really well from their time together in Orlando and will likely be focused on shutting him down.

Prediction: 1-0 Minnesota Win

That can’t be right, can it? I pick wrong all the time because it’s really freaking hard. This just feels like a let down type of game that could sneak up on a team and Igor Juliao is probably good for giving up a goal by himself.