When: Saturday, August 21, 2021 at 2:30 PM CT (Kickoff 2:38)
Where: Allianz Field
How to Watch/Stream: ESPN | ESPN App
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)
Playoff revenge will be on the line for Sporting Kansas City as they look to bounce back from that embarrassing 3-0 home loss to the Loons in last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs. Sporting were the number one seed and were crushed by relatively new signing Emmanuel Reynoso.
The timing of this match is not as great as it could have been for Kansas City as Minnesota struggled early in the season but are rounding into form. They’ve climbed all the way into the sixth spot in the Western Conference with a 7-6-6 record and 27 points. That leaves them 11 points behind now second place Sporting KC who fell a point behind the Seattle Sounders after their midweek draw to the Portland Timbers.
MLS is still trying to make this a rivalry, but it’ll take some bitter games that matter deeply to forge that. Minnesota are off to a good start with that road win in last year’s playoffs, but SKC still hold the advantage in all competitions with a 7-5-2 record since the Loons came to MLS. However, Sporting are just 1-2-2 on the road, though it was the last regular season meeting in August of 2020 where they got that win.
Minnesota’s Recent Form
Minnesota had gone on a bit of a run before settling in for some so-so results over the last few weeks.
- July 28th @ LAFC - 2-2 Draw
- July 31st @ Vancouver Whitecaps - 2-2 Draw
- August 7th vs Houston Dynamo - 2-0 Win
- August 14th vs LA Galaxy - 0-1 Loss
- August 17th @ San Jose Earthquakes - 1-1 Draw
Prior to that five game stretch, MNUFC had won four of their prior six.
What’s changed for Minnesota since 2020?
Minnesota have brought in a staggering 14 players and sent out another 16. Let’s just hit the high points.
IN: Four players joined from outside the league in Franco Fragapane (transfer from CA Talleres in Argentina), Joseph Rosales (signed from CA Independiente de La Chorrera in Panama), Adrien Hunou (via transfer from Stade Rennais in France) and Ramon Abila (on loan from Boca Juniors in Argentina). However, Abila is already in the OUT column as they released him and he’s since joined D.C. United.
They brought in MLS free agents Juan Agudelo and Will Trapp and added veterans Callum Montgomery (FC Dallas), Jukka Raitala (CF Montreal) and Niko Hansen (Houston Dynamo) via trades. They’ve added several younger players with two SuperDraft picks (Justin McMaster and Nabilai Kibunguchy) and a couple Homegrowns, including Patrick Weah (yeah, same family).
OUT: Minnesota recently bought out former SKC center back Ike Opara (who hadn’t played since prior to the pandemic) and lost star Kevin Molino via free agency to the Columbus Crew. They declined options on MLS veterans James Musa (formerly of SKC), Jose Aja and Aaron Shoenfeld. Plus they have numerous players out on loan, including failed Young Designated Player Thomas Chacon to a little club called Liverpool (not that one).
Former Sporting KC striker Kei Kamara was also out of contract.
OUT - Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons), Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (hamstring), Jaylin Lindsey (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE - None
*This has been updated by the official injury report.
OUT - Franco Fragapane (thigh), Niko Hansen (hamstring), Joseph Rosales (unknown), Dayne St. Clair (health & safety protocols)
QUESTIONABLE - Jan Gregus (ankle), Jacori Hayes (hamstring)
GOALS: Daniel Salloi (12), Alan Pulido (8), Gadi Kinda (4), Johnny Russell (3),
Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey (2), Ilie Sanchez, Felipe Hernandez, Khiry Shelton, Cam Duke, Luis Martins (1)
ASSISTS: Daniel Salloi (6), Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton (5), Graham Zusi (4),
Gianluca Busio, Gadi Kinda, Alan Pulido (3), Felipe Hernandez (2), Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins, Jaylin Lindsey (1)
GOALS: Robin Lod (6), Ramon Abila, Hassani Dotson, Franco Fragapane, Adrien Hunou, Brent Kallman, Emanuel Reynoso (2), four with one (1)
ASSISTS: Reynoso (6), Lod (4), Fragapane (3), Dotson (2), eight with one (1)
Starting XI Predictions
That has it’s own story, as always.
The way Reynoso shredded the Kansas City defense in the 2020 playoffs brings back nightmares. His main cohort of the evening was Kevin Molino, who is now with the Crew. However, Minnesota have pulled out of their early season slump that saw them lose their first four games to become a more dangerous side.
Coach Adrian Heath has found something tactically that seemed to be working but then Robin Lod went down injured. He’s not on the injury report that was released today but initially it was said he was out four weeks.
Sporting KC have their own problems as they have played the same lineup in back-to-back games and failed to make more than a single substitution. That surely means they’ll be a bit tired, as it’s likely most of those players will be asked to suit up for the third time this week. We’ll see if it works out.
What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. Let’s chat about it.
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