Loons Look To Dash KC’s Playoff Hopes


Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting Kansas City

Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota

09.16.2023 | MLS Matchday 32 | MLS Game No. 28

7:30 p.m. CT (AppleTV - MLS Season Pass, 1500 ESPN)

Hello, fellow waterfowl enthusiasts! Just when we thought the boys were going to take the L against a tough New England side, they go out and do something like this….AND TOTALLY REDEEM THEMSELVES!

While the match may have ended in a draw, seeing the Loons come through in the clutch was a thing of beauty. And, when you consider New England’s spot near the top of the table in the Eastern Conference, it’s even more impressive for the boys to come away from the match with one more point in the Western Conference standings and keep on rolling with their late season playoff push. Now, we turn the page and roll out the welcome wagon for our friends from Sporting Kansas City as they roll into town to take on the Black and Blue this Saturday at Allianz Field at 7:30 p.m. So, let’s get into it…

Minnesota United FC

Run of Form: D-D-W-D-W

For the Loons, the undefeated show goes on. Franco Fragapane’s equalizer came just in the nick of time…mainly since there was no time left. In addition to the last-second heroics, fans can take some optimism from seeing the Loons gut it out and get a positive result instead of getting the short end of the stoppage-time stick; usually it's the other way around. Most importantly, it gives more credence to the belief that this year’s squad is different then previous seasons. That they have the intestinal fortitude to keep trending upward and, hopefully, avoid a downturn in the momentum they’ve worked so hard to build in the second half of the season. Against the Revs, the attack was aggressive, the defense was solid and the keeper was standing on his head. In other words, rinse and repeat, fellas.

Sporting Kansas City

Run of Form: L-W-W-L-W 

The friendliest rivals in sports had been on a bit of a run themselves, beating San Jose and St Louis CITY before dropping a close match to a Messi-less Inter Miami side, 3-2, this past Saturday. They still have plenty of work to do to get into the playoff picture, as they currently sit in the 12th spot in the Western Conference. With so much at stake, Sporting Kansas City won’t be laying down for anybody, especially when that team are their rivals that are also vying for their own spot in the playoffs. One favorable thing for MNUFC? Sporting KC faces a formidable opponent in Hany Mukhtar and Nashville SC this Wednesday night.

|  Keys to the Game

Prioritize Pulido

Alan Pulido is a dangerous man, at least on the pitch he is. And, after missing the entire 2022 season due to knee surgery, he has been making up for lost time in 2023 in the scoring department. After Saturday, Pulido’s goal against Miami put him tied for second for most goals this season with his 13th goal of the year. The Loons are quite familiar with Pulido’s attacking capabilities, and if they hope to keep Sporting KC from spoiling their Saturday, the defense will need to keep their heads on a swivel and be ready to stop Pulido from finding those scoring opportunities. 

Fire When Ready

Even if they didn’t end up getting the equalizer against the Revs until the final few seconds of stoppage time, the Loons were like a firing squad near the New England net. Their attack has obviously evolved as the season has gone on, but it was good to see them shoot when they had the opening instead of taking one touch too many. As Bongi gets back up to speed and el Rey continues to shapeshift and create quality scoring opportunities, the Loons can be the aggressors against Kansas City’s defenders. And, if their aim can be a little sharper in this one, they may be able to jump on Sporting early and put them a hole before the half. 

Get Franco Fast

While he has played much of the season in a reserve role, Franco Fragapane definitely made his case for getting more minutes on the pitch after his performance against New England. His speed can kill, and when subbed into the match against the Revs, that speed continued to be a challenge for the New England’s defenders late into the match. Whether Coach Heath is looking to come out of the gates hot, or looking to get some fresh legs later in the match, Franco has the speed to keep the attacking third pushing, early (or late) and often.