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Sporting KC v Minnesota United: Preview, Predictions, Starting XI, Stats, Injuries

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Three games to go. Send in the kids (this time please)!

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Sporting Kansas City Peter G. Aiken

Sporting KC @ Minnesota United (#MINvSKC)

When: Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 at 7:00 PM CT

Where: Allianz Field

How to Watch/Stream: Fox Sporting KC Plus | Fox Sports Midwest Plus | ESPN+
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM

Somehow, Sporting Kansas City are still alive for the playoffs. This is despite having lost three games in a row. Three games in which SKC were winning before they weren’t. Let’s just get the playoff math out of the way.

San Jose and Portland are both at home.

As for a story line between “the nicest rivals in MLS.” It’s all about Ike Opara. He was traded away in the offseason and this team has missed him all year. At first it looked fine and then suddenly Andreu Fontas imploded. And with him the entire back line seemed to collapse. Let’s just hope Opara can play (or maybe we should hope he can’t). He left the last game with flu-like symptoms at halftime over the weekend.

Interesting Stats

  • Since Minnesota have joined MLS, Sporting KC are an abysmal 0-2-2 against them in Southern Canada Minnesota in all competitions.
  • The teams met just over a month ago on August 22nd in a game where Minnesota rested many players in preparation for the US Open Cup final they ultimately loss to Atlanta United. SKC won 1-0 on a late Erik Hurtado goal.
  • In the last meeting in Minnesota, United came out on top in a 4-1 beat down that sent SKC out of the US Open Cup in their opening round of play.

What’s changed for Minnesota since these clubs met last?

Nothing.

Look back at our prior preview to see how Adrian Heath remade his roster ahead of the clubs 2019 turnaround.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT - Rodney Wallace (hip injury), Andreu Fontas (Achilles), Benny Feilhaber (quad strain), Adrian Zendejas (back)

QUESTIONABLE - None

*Fontas is officially out and this story has been updated to reflect that (except the Starting XI prediction below which I would move Smith into that spot).

Minnesota

OUT - None

QUESTIONABLE - Wilfried Moimbe (left leg injury)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - Matt Besler [red card] (Roger Espinoza & Gerso suspended next yellow card)

*Espinoza is just a single game away from the good behavior incentive that would see him need two yellows to earn another suspension. What restraint from “red card” Roger.

Minnesota - None

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS - Felipe Gutierrez (12), Johnny Russell (9), Krisztian Nemeth (7), Gianluca Busio, Yohan Croizet (3), Erik Hurtado, Ilie Sanchez, Benny Feilhaber, Gerso (2), Graham Smith (1)

ASSISTS - Johnny Russell (7), Gerso Fernandes (6), Ilie Sanchez (5), Felipe Gutierrez (3), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Yohan Croizet, Kelyn Rowe, Krisztian Nemeth, Benny Feilhaber (2), Nicolas Hasler, Seth Sinovic, Gianluca Busio, Graham Smith, Jimmy Medranda, Daniel Salloi (1)

Minnesota

GOALS - Darwin Quintero (10), Ethan Finlay (7), Mason Toye (6), Angelo Rodriguez (5), Kevin Molino, Ike Opara, Hassani Dotson (3), two with two, six with one

ASSISTS - Jan Gregus (9), Romain Metanire (7), Quintero (5), Molino (4), Toye, Finlay (3), two with two, seven with one (including Opara and Lawrence Olum)

Starting XI Predictions

I’m not going to change my prediction from last week. The season is fundamentally over. At this point, not learning how some of these kids would do (or at least giving them valuable experience) next to players likely to be here next season is a mistake. Playing “the starters” isn’t working anyways. Play the kids.

I’ll say it again. Loan Salloi to Swope Park. He couldn’t score if his life depended on it. He needs confidence and hopefully he can gain it against lesser competition. Medranda can play the wing and honestly I’d like to see Nemeth on the wing. If Espinoza and Barath can be loaned to SPR then surely Salloi can be.

At center back, Matt Besler is suspended. It’s likely that Fontas won’t be healthy enough to play (he’s missed the last several games). That said, I still want to see him at left center back since he will be a hard contract to move in the offseason (guaranteed through 2022 and making north of $1 million per year).

Everything else I’ve summed up previously. Play the kids!

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Smith, Medranda, Nemeth, Zusi, Espinoza, Ilie

Something interesting to watch will be what happens with Graham Smith. If Fontas isn’t healthy then Barath and Smith are the only available center backs. If Ilie plays center back over Smith then Vermes has put Graham Smith deep into the doghouse. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Not having Smith out defending on all those set piece goals may have been the difference in winning against Colorado last week as opposed to losing.

Fan Starting XI

The fan vote was very close at many positions. So much so, I’ll just break it down by spot. I’m only posting people with double digit vote percentage though. (Starters in italics).

GOALKEEPERS

Melia (66.7%), Zendejas (21.4%), Dick (11.9%)

DEFENDERS

Barath (90.5%), Smith (78.6%), Lindsey (73.8%), Martins (71.4%), Sinovic (21.4%), Zusi & Fontas (16.7%), Hasler & Medranda (11.9%)

MIDFIELDERS

Busio (66.7%), Gutierrez (59.5%), Ilie (35.7%), Espinoza & Hernandez (33.3%), Zelalem (28.6%), Kuzain (21.4%), Medranda (11.9%)

WINGERS

Russell (85.7%), Gerso (66.7%), Salloi (21.4%), Medranda (11.9%)

CENTER FORWARD

Hurtado (40.5%), Nemeth (35.7%), Salloi (14.3%)

Prediction

Sporting KC have nothing to play for but pride. They have honestly started the last three games promising before either melting down or self-inflicting wounds. I want them to win out because they don’t own any of their draft picks, they could use the confidence and I simply am a fan. If nothing, play spoiler to the teams down the stretch. They won’t make the playoffs without a miracle, but at least they can avoid going down in flames.

Nothing in the last three weeks has shown me they can win though.

3-1 Minnesota Win

What do you think? Predictions in the comments for both lineups and results are welcome. We can’t quite tell who you voted for in our other poll, so let us know why we are wrong (or right).

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