Minnesota United heads to Kansas City (KS) to take on Sporting Kansas City on Thursday night in their 6th match out of 8 in 4 weeks.
The Loons come into Thursday night having only lost one match in their last 14 competitive matches but on the flip side MNUFC has never won in Kansas City. The Loons sport an 0-3 record and a 9-1 goal differential in MLS play and an 0-3 record with an 8-1 goal differential in USOC play.
While there is no doubt that “The Blue Hell” in Kansas City will play a helping factor for the home side it’s not without merit that Minnesota can win for the first time in a building. In the midst of their unbeaten run MNUFC not only scored for the first time but also defeated Houston 3-2 at BBVA Stadium in the US Open Cup. The Loons also had a convincing 4-1 win over SKC earlier this season in the Open Cup in a match that progressed them into the aforementioned Houston contest.
While MNUFC has done well this season Sporting Kansas City has struggled at times in 2019. SKC comes into the match with a 6-11-7 record giving them 31 points and putting them at 10th/12 in the Western Conference.
“It’s the first time that I can remember since I’ve been here that it might have gone a bit different than they would’ve liked. This is a team that looks like it’s evolving. This team has been able to pick itself virtually for – it seems like for an eternity. Now it looks different. I was looking at the roster and the team again this morning. [They made] three or four changes from a few weeks ago. Maybe [they’re] taking their time to bed in but they had a big win on Saturday against San Jose. We know how difficult they will be. It’s at that stage now, for them, where probably every home game is going to be really, really crucial. We know what’s coming. You know my feelings about Peter [Vermes] and his staff and that club. [I’ve] got a tremendous amount of respect for them all. We know it’s going to be difficult. We’ve had a tough time of it there over the last two or three years so we’ll need to play a lot better than we have done to get a result.”
A tough time in Kansas City might be a bit of a misnomer as we pointed out earlier the Loons are 0-6 all time with a 17-2 goal differential on the road against Sporting KC. Jan Gregus reiterated Heath’s point about MNUFC needing to play their own game and a better one then previous attempts.
“We know the team and we know how they play. Like always, like every game, we need to be careful of their strong [aspects]. We still need to play our football and be active. I think it’s going to be more about us, our work ethic and everything like that.” - Jan Gregus
Thursday night in Kansas City will be Ike Opara’s first visit to Children’s Mercy Park since being traded from SKC to MNUFC in the offseason. Mason Toye will also be able to return to the match day roster after serving a two game suspension for a red card. On the flip side Felipe Gutierrez has 48 fouls during the 2019 season but has also been dangerous in front of the net, scoring multiple goals in three games and has scored 24 goals this season.
Minnesota United FC
- Questionable: M – Kevin Molino (left leg)
- Out: Angelo Rodriguez (right leg) and Osvaldo Alonso (right leg)
Sporting Kansas City
- Questionable: D – Botond Barath (back), F – Krisztian Nemeth (abdominal), and F – Gerso Gernandes (ankle)
- Out: D – Rodney Wallace (hip) and GK – Adrian Zendejas (back)
Loonum Staff Predictions:
John Stephenson: 1-0 Sporting KC
Jacob Schneider: 3-0 Sporting KC
Seth Steffenhagen: 1-1 Draw
Tim McLaughlin: 1-0 Loons
Zak Lippert: 2-0 Sporting KC
Ashle Norling: 2-0 Sporting KC
Colin O’Donnell: 0-0 Draw