Storylines is feeling the pressure as Decision Day draws closer and closer. There’s a lot on the line this weekend, with five teams fighting for the final three postseason spots in the Western Conference. Only two of these five teams are playing one another, though, making Minnesota United’s matchup with Sporting Kansas City the most exciting game of the matchday. Though the future of their seasons will be on the line in Saturday’s showdown, it’s the history of these two sides that we’ll be focusing on today.
These clubs have very different stories, both in length and substance. SKC have been around since the beginning of the league, though they were known as the Kansas City Wizards back in the day. They’ve taken part in every single Decision Day, while the upstart Loons have only been a part of the yearly tradition on six occasions. Both teams have seen their fates decided on the last day in years past, for better or worse.
After 27 years, SKC has accumulated a record of 11-11-5 on the final day of the season. They’ve played on the road 14 times, going 4-6-4 in that span. Lucky for them, they don’t have to worry about traveling this year, as they’ll be hosting the Loons this time around. Their home record has been a bit kinder to them on Decision Day, earning a 7-5-1 mark across 13 games. More often than not, these guys win with their backs against the wall.
For MNUFC, the story is much shorter and, seemingly, more simple. The Black and Blue have put together a 2-3-1 record in their final days of each season, but there’s a clear trend. In four away matches to end the season, the Loons have never won. In the two seasons they concluded in Minnesota, they earned two wins. It’s not a great record, but records are made to be broken, right?
While the Decision Day history is interesting, it’s the head-to-head narrative that really informs us in this matchup. MNUFC is 6-13-4 against SKC since joining MLS, with a 1-9-0 record in Kansas. It’s been pretty bleak for the Loons at Children’s Mercy Park, with some big score lines leaving them blacker and bluer than usual.
That lone win, though? Fans may remember that emphatic 3-0 win in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, when two goals from Kevin Molino and a third from Bakaye Dibassy in the first half downed Peter Vermes’ side before the ref even blew the halftime whistle. When it mattered most, the Loons found it within themselves to snag their first victory in SKC’s house.
It seems like every statistical trend is against the Loons this weekend, but trends are only true until they aren’t. Soccer games aren’t won or lost by the actions of the past; rather, victory is earned through the efforts of the present. Throw history out the window when you tune into the game this weekend; it doesn’t really matter. It’s do or die for both teams, with anything less than a win eliminating them from postseason contention. How these clubs remember their 2023 season will be determined by this result. It doesn’t get much bigger than this during the regular season.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC
Children’s Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
10.21.2023 | MLS Game #34
8:00 p.m. CT (Watch on MLS Season Pass, 1500 ESPN)