Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC
2017 MLS Regular Season
Children’s Mercy Park – Kansas City, Kan.
Saturday, June 3 – 5 pm ET
WATCH: ESPN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada
Minnesota United FC had an excellent Memorial Day weekend, with head coach Adrian Heath getting an emotional win over his former club Orlando City SC thanks to another goal from the impressive Christian Ramirez.
Heath admitted after the match that he wanted to win “more” against Orlando than he had in past games against other clubs, something his players were cognizant of heading into the match. Now, with Heath’s first match against the Lions out of the way, Minnesota turn their attention toward achieving another set of MLS firsts in Kansas City: First road win and first run of consecutive league victories.
For Sporting KC, the holiday break was more frustrating than cathartic. Despite dominating Colorado in every facet of the game, SKC fell 1-0 at the Rapids last Saturday. Now, after two straight losses away from home, Sporting KC return to the friendly confines of Children’s Mercy Park looking to blow off a little steam and keep their spot atop the Western Conference.
“This one is a tough one to swallow, just the way we owned the game,” SKC head coach Peter Vermes said after his team’s loss at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. “I think this is something that is going to sit in the pit of the stomach until the next game. These guys are going to be fired up, because we played at a level that was completely different, just the chances and possession that we had.”
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting KC will have plenty of motivation on Saturday, they just won’t have too many bodies. SKC’s roster is currently decimated by injuries, international call-ups and suspension, leaving open the possibility that Vermes won’t even be able to field a full 18-man gameday roster this weekend.
A few of the absences will be critical, too. Defenders Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are both gone with the US national team (Update: Bruce Arena has allowed Besler to return to Kansas City for Saturday's match), central midfielder Roger Espinoza is out due to a red card suspension and forward Dom Dwyer is questionable with an injury. How Sporting cope without at least three, and potentially four, of their most important players will obviously play a huge role in determining Saturday’s result. We’ll see if Benny Feilhaber, Gerso Fernandes, Ike Opara and Tim Melia have enough juice to avenge SKC’s May 7 defeat at Minnesota.
- Suspended: Roger Espinoza (red card)
- Int’l duty:
Matt Besler (US),Erik Palmer-Brown (US Under-20s), Graham Zusi (US)
- Injury report: OUT – F Diego Rubio (torn ACL), D Kevin Ellis (quad strain); QUESTIONABLE – F Dom Dwyer (knee injury)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Tim Melia – Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic – Ilie Sanchez, Benny Feilhaber, Soni Mustivar – Jimmy Medranda, Latif Blessing, Gerso Fernandes
Minnesota United FC
While Sporting have lost two in a row and will be at far less than full-strength on Saturday, they will be far from an easy out for Minnesota.
Like just about every expansion team, the Loons have struggled mightily on the road this season, posting a 0-4-2 mark in their six away matches in MLS play. That doesn’t exactly bode well for their trip to SKC, who are an unbeaten 5-0-1 at home this year and have outscored their opponents by a massive 13-2 margin at Children’s Mercy Park.
Minnesota will also be without a few of their more important players, as well. Francisco Calvo and Johan Venegas have left for the Costa Rican national team, while Sam Cronin will miss Saturday’s game due to suspension. He’s been a midfield linchpin since being acquired from Colorado earlier this season, helping particularly with Minnesota’s defensive shape and balance. How likely replacement Collen Warner fares against Feilhaber and Co. will be key for the Loons’ chances this weekend.
- Suspended: Sam Cronin (Disciplinary Committee decision)
- Int’l duty: Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica), Johan Venegas (Costa Rica)
- Injury report: OUT – M Bernardo Anor (left leg injury), M/D Thomas de Villardi (Achilles), F Abu Danladi (groin)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bobby Shuttleworth – Jerome Thiesson, Brent Kallman, Jermaine Taylor, Marc Burch – Collen Warner, Ibson – Miguel Ibarra, Kevin Molino, Ish Jome – Christian Ramirez
This is the second meeting between Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota. The Loons took the first matchup, beating SKC 2-0 at TCF Bank Stadium on May 7.
- Overall: Sporting KC 0 wins (0 goals), Minnesota 1 win (2 goals), 0 draws
- At Kansas City: First match between the teams in Kansas City
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Assistant Referees: Jeff Hosking, Danny Thornberry
Fourth Official: Allen Chapman