The top two teams in the MLS Western Division meet Friday night in the first game after the Orlando tournament as first place Sporting KC travel to second place Minnesota United.
These teams met in a thrilling group game last month in Orlando with Minnesota United erasing a 1-0 deficit with two goals in stoppage time to win 2-1 after Sporting KC goalie Tim Melia was sent off. Friday night’s game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET at Allianz Field in St. Paul on ESPN+.
These teams have met nine times in MLS games and twice in the US Open Cup since Minnesota United joined the league in 2017. In the MLS games Sporting KC has four wins while Minnesota United has three and there have been two draws. Both teams have won a fourth round US Open Cup game with SKC winning in 2017 and MUNFC winning last year at home.
Sporting KC leads the Western Conference with 12 points as MLS resumes this week. They won both games to start the season before the COVID break and earned six points with two wins and the Minnesota United loss in group play in Orlando. Alan Pulido scored two goals and added three assists in Orlando while Khiry Shelton scored twice.
Overall in 2020 Pulido has four goals and four assists while Shelton has three goals. Gadi Kinda has two goals and Sporting has bagged goals from eight different players. Melia has started all of the games except one this season and he has two clean sheets with three wins.
Through five MLS games this season Sporting KC have the second-most goals, two behind LAFC. They are tied with Columbus Crew for the best goal differential in the entire league at +8.
The Loons enjoyed being the underdog in Orlando as they upset Sporting KC in group play before upsetting Columbus Crew in the round of 16 and San Jose Earthquakes in the quarterfinals. Minnesota United fell 3-1 to the eventual runner-up Orlando City in the semifinals.
Minnesota United is one of four undefeated teams left in MLS play and they have just one less goal scored than Sporting in the five league games. In six games in Orlando the Loons scored 10 goals with seven different players finding the back of the net. Keeper Tyler Miller made 14 saves in those contests and secured a shootout win over Columbus as well.
The Loons are expected to be without 2019 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara when they host SKC on Friday. Opara, a former Sporting KC player, did not travel to the tournament in Orlando but is back training with the team in Minnesota. Jose Aja has filled in at center back and Minnesota just signed French defender Bakaye Dibassy as well.
Sporting KC to win: +161
Minnesota United to win: +144
Over/Under: 3 goals (O -102, U -129)
Minnesota United got two breaks late in their win over Sporting KC in Orlando as Melia was sent off with a red-card and then 10-men SKC scored an own goal to tie the game. They can’t count on those breaks in this one and while the Loons progressed further than SKC in the tournament, they were scrambling most of the way. Minnesota has never lost at home to Sporting KC but they won’t have a rabid crowd on hand for this one.
Head over to Realbookies.com; our favorite pay per head bookie site and take Sporting KC to win (+161)