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MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Minnesota United FC

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Sporting KC v Minnesota United: Preview, Predictions & How to Watch

Let’s figure out what there is to play for on Saturday.

Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC vs. Minnesota United

When: Saturday, September 17th, 2022 at 7:30 PM CT (Kickoff 7:38)

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

How to Watch/Stream: 38 the Spot | ESPN+ (out of market) | SportingKC.com & SKC App (in market) | Sporting One App on Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV

Somehow, the incredibly slim playoff hopes of Sporting Kansas City are still alive. They won by a resounding three goals to nil hosting D.C. United on Tuesday and then all the correct results played out on Wednesday. Real Salt Lake were stomped by Austin FC and the LA Galaxy lost badly to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

As a quick reminder on the playoff math, Sporting KC need to run the table winning all remaining three games, RSL need to lose out, the LA Galaxy need to lose out except when they play RSL and they need to win. Oh, and Sporting KC need to close the massive goal differential gap on the Galaxy. They chipped away six (!) goals on that differential this week already in just one game each, but the gap is still 16 goals wide. Once again, it’s not going to happen, but it’s kind of fun how the mid-week games played out.

Despite the unlikelihood of a playoff run, Sporting KC still showed they have something to play for. In a heavily rotated lineup, they were in control much up the way against DCU and found a first career MLS goal for backup CB Robi Voloder, Khiry Shelton’s first goal of the year and Daniel Salloi showed he’s most definitely a wizard.

They will welcome Minnesota United to town. Despite being in the middle of SKC’s terrible run, Sporting still managed to earn a draw on the road against MNUFC. Sporting are still well ahead in the all-time series (10-6-4) but Minnesota will be battling hard for their playoff positioning unlike D.C. United.

The Loons enter Saturday’s road match down to fifth in the MLS Western Conference standings and only five points clear of the eighth place LA Galaxy who have a game in hand. They are in control of making the playoffs, but they haven’t locked up a spot yet. They could easily climb to fourth and host a home playoff game and with some help can get to third. There is everything to play for.

Wooden Spoon Standings:

e = eliminated

I’ve added some teams to the ranking because Kansas City is closer to them than the bottom. Their win over D.C. United all but assures they won’t ‘win’ the wooden spoon. It could all go horribly wrong as Sporting KC have a tough slate of final games against teams in the playoffs or fighting for their playoff lives (Seattle Sounders).

However, D.C. plays two current playoff teams (CF Montreal and FC Cincinnati) and another fighting for their lives in 8th place (Inter Miami CF). So hopefully the spoon update will no longer be necessary after this weekend.

Minnesota’s Recent Form

  • August 27th vs. Houston Dynamo — 2-1 Win
  • August 31st @ Real Salt Lake — 0-3 Loss
  • Sept. 3rd vs. FC Dallas — 0-3 Loss
  • Sept. 10th @ Portland Timbers — 0-1 Loss
  • Sept. 13th vs. LAFC — 1-1 Draw

Sporting KC are catching Minnesota at a good time as they are winless in their last four, including three losses. They won three straight before this most recent slip up, so it’ll be interesting to see who shows up this weekend in KC.

What’s new for the Minnesota since the last meeting?

Our last preview between these teams came out on July 12th, head back there to see Minnesota’s offseason moves. Below are the moves since that preview.

IN: The club has made three additions since then. They added forward Mender Garcia via transfer from Once Caldas (Columbia) and midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez on loan from CF Monterrey (Mexico). Gonzalez has made five appearances (one start) for just 125 minutes while Garcia has six appearances (three starts) for 294 minutes.

On the 12th, they also added defender Alan Benitez who has become a bit of a regular with nine appearances (six starts) for 546 minutes in his limited time with the club. He already has a couple assists to his name as well.

OUT: None

Injuries/Availability*

Sporting KC

OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (SEI - knee surgery), Tim Melia (hamstring), Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE - Graham Zusi (quad), Logan Ndenbe (Health and Safety Protocols)

*This has been updated based on the official injury report.

Minnesota United

OUT - Emmanuel Reynoso (yellow card accumulation), Bakaye Dibassy (thigh), Hassani Dotson (knee), Jacori Hayes (lower leg), Callum Montgomery (thigh)

QUESTIONABLE - Bongokuhle Hlongwane (knee), Robin Lod (calf)

Discipline Watch for Sporting KC

Suspended Next Yellow Card: Kortne Ford, Roger Espinoza

Stats

Sporting KC

Goals: Johnny Russell (8), Daniel Salloi (7), Willy Agada (5), Remi Walter (3), Roger Espinoza, Erik Thommy, Andreu Fontas, Felipe Hernandez (2), Marinos Tzionis, Graham Zusi, Robert Voloder, Khiry Shelton (1)

Assists: Felipe Hernandez, Cam Duke, Daniel Salloi, Roger Espinoza (3), Ben Sweat, Remi Walter, Graham Zusi, Willy Agada (2), Uri Rosell, Khiry Shelton, Kayden Pierre (1)

It’s a bit of a shame Tzionis didn’t get that assist for his nice pass to Shelton. Technically it deflected slightly, so I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes.

Minnesota United

Goals: Emmanuel Reynoso (10), Luis Amarilla (9), Franco Fragapane, Robin Lod (6), Abu Danladi, Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Brent Kallman (2), six with one (1)

Assists: Reynoso (10), Amarilla (5), Hlongwane (4), Fragapane, DJ Taylor (3), Alan Benitez, Hassani Dotson, Lod, Joseph Rosales, Will Trapp (2), five with one (1)

Starting XI Predictions

I won’t lie, I was surprised to see six new starters on Tuesday. It’s exactly what we usually ask for on a midweek game and probably partially because of who they were playing, it really worked. Of the rotational starters, Marinos Tzionis and Kendall McIntosh were the most impressive to my eye. Voloder was close behind, but he had a few flubs that could have been worse had D.C. United had any semblance of attack (or McIntosh hadn’t bailed him out).

I leave out Felipe Hernandez because he’s always good and we expect that. Cam Duke was also better, but I’d sure like to see him fight through contact a little harder.

Go to the comments and tell me what lineup you’d like to see since we didn’t get a poll out this week with all the congestion and suddenly nothing mattering anymore.

Predictions

Minnesota being without their best player is a definite win for Kansas City. I see no reason they can’t win this game. I imagine it’ll be hard fought but ultimately as long as they play some of their younger players and keep building towards 2023, that’s the most important thing for me.

And no bad injuries (or injuries at all ideally).

2-1 Sporting KC Win

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