Sporting KC v Minnesota United (#SKCvMIN)
Sunday, June 3, 2018 at 7:30 PM CT
Fox Sports 1 (FS1) | ESPN 94.5 FM | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM
If this feels like deja vu, then you aren’t alone. These two teams played to a 1-1 draw two weeks ago. The only difference was it was in Minnesota instead of Kansas City and now a couple players are on international duty.
The game two weeks ago was one that Sporting Kansas City absolutely should have won. They dominated all aspects of the games outside of the final tally. They outshot Minnesota 24 to 6. Shots on goal were 10 to 4 in favor of Sporting KC. Corners were a blowout at 9 to 0 for SKC (and they actually scored on one). And of course Sporting dominated possession 61.3% to 38.7%.
The only statistical categories that were even outside the final score were fouls (13 each) and yellow cards (two each). To top that off, Minnesota only led in stats that a team getting run over should lead in, saves (9 to 3) and clearances (31 to 12).
Despite all that, Sporting were only able to get a point on the road. But this is a home game and SKC can ill-afford a third straight draw. Especially after that abysmal performance (for everyone not named Tim Melia) last week at home. They have to find a way to get all three points in this one but Minnesota have historically played them tough. Their all-time MLS record against one another is 1-1-2 for both clubs. That one win does come in the lone home game they played against one another last year (a 3-0 drumming).
Since these teams played exactly two weeks ago (as of game day) there is no point in going over this again. If you missed that game, here are the changes Minnesota made from 2017 to 2018.
OUT: Felipe Gutierrez (sports hernia surgery) — out 2-3 months, Jimmy Medranda (bone bruise in leg)
QUESTIONABLE: Diego Rubio (back injury), Colton Storm (ankle sprain), Seth Sinovic (I assume whiplash), Khiry Shelton (thigh), Brad Evans (thigh)
OUT: Sam Cronin (cervicogenic dysfunction), Kevin Molino (torn left ACL), Ethan Finlay (torn ACL), Marc Burch (left knee injury), Matt Lampson (right knee injury)
QUESTIONABLE: Ibson (left thigh)
Sporting KC - None
Minnesota - None (Rasmus Schuller & Francisco Calvo suspended next yellow)
Sporting KC - Johnny Russell (Scotland)
Minnesota - Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica)
Goals: Felipe Gutierrez, Johnny Russell (5), Daniel Salloi (3), Jimmy Medranda, Ilie Sanchez, Graham Zusi (2) — [The fact this hasn’t been updated in two games is alarming]
Assists: Roger Espinoza (5), Daniel Salloi (4), Ilie Sanchez, Johnny Russell (3), Khiry Shelton (2)
Goals: Christian Ramirez, Darwin Quintero (3), Kevin Molino, Ethan Finley, Ibson, Miguel Ibarra (2)
Assists: Miguel Ibarra (3), 11 others with one.
Sporting KC - L/W/W/D/D (8 Points)
Minnesota - W/L/L/D/W (7 Points)
Starting XI Predictions
The schedule congestion has finally arrived and it coincides with international absences. Luckily, only Johnny Russell will be gone as his native Scotland faces off against Mexico in Mexico City — at altitude. You have to wonder if he’ll be ready to go Wednesday against Real Salt Lake in the US Open Cup. The good news is Daniel Salloi will not be joining Hungary for their friendlies against Belarus and Australia. Vermes indicated it’s because Salloi is in the final stages of getting his green card and travelling abroad is frowned upon.
That should make the lineup changes minimal at best. Gerso should slot into Russell’s spot. Khiry scored against Minnesota last time out, despite looking nearly 100% ineffective during every moment of the game outside that point. But he’s started literally every game since the opener and Rubio picked up some sort of back injury last week (or is that move to Liga MX for real and they are holding him out to preserve health). So Khiry starts again, despite evidence that he’s possibly ineffective — but Chad you say... it’s all that other stuff he does!
[Update at 3:32 PM CT on 6/1/18: Sporting KC released an updated injury report with Rubio and Shelton on it. Maybe Croizet finally gets his run out at False 9.]
With Medranda still not back in practice as of Wednesday (h/t to Thad Bell), that leaves minimal options in the midfield, so Croizet should start again alongside Espinoza. That said, Kuzain got his first appearance last week and he played attacking mid at the SKC Academy so maybe they try something new. But probably not. It’ll be important to watch Saturday’s Swope Park Ranger game to see who is in the lineup though.
The Medranda injury also adds to the situation at left back. Medranda started the last game against Minnesota but was subbed out pretty early because Ibarra was torching him down the wing. It turns out he was hurt and Seth Sinovic replaced him. However, Sinovic did miss a day of practice this week after the slap heard ‘round the world (except by VAR Jorge Gonzalez). I can’t imagine he’s really hurt though, so I’d start him over the leaky Cristian Lobato.
Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Rubio, Lobato, Amor, Lindsey, Kuzain, Belmar
The bench is anyone’s guess with the triple game week, injuries and international duty.
[The fan vote has the same lineup I’ve gone with. A few interesting things to point out. Rubio got 25.7% of the vote, so it’s not close but the discontent with Shelton is growing. Kuzain was the fourth highest midfielder in votes (22.9%) and if we removed Jimmy due to injury it might have been higher. Sinovic is the lowest starter vote-wise (51.4%) with Lobato and Medranda pulling away votes. Overall, we all seem to have settled into the fact that Vermes has a preferred lineup and outside injuries and call-ups he’s sticking with it]
If Sporting KC are really contenders this year, this is a game they must win. It’s a home game (where they are 4-1-2 this season). Minnesota are losers of four straight road games (1-5-0 on the season). And did I mention it’s a home game?
It will be a true test on Sunday to see if Sporting KC can win without both Gutirrez and Russell. One (or both) of them has been in the lineup every single game this year. Gerso was last years leading goal scorer but Minnesota are likely to bunker on the road and his speed may be somewhat negated. It’s time for others to step up like Salloi, Shelton and/or Croizet.