Evidently, last weekend’s win against Seattle woke the sleeping giant in the Sunflower State. Sporting Kansas City handed Minnesota United a 3-0 loss on Saturday night after putting in a massive performance at Children’s Mercy Park. While the home side was sharp and lively, a few too many giveaways in the Loons midfield made Sporting’s job a bit easier.
MNUFC showed a few flashes early on, continuing to use the 3-5-2 formation that they found some success with in their midweek U.S. Open Cup win against Philadelphia. However, the strengths that the formation brought on Tuesday were turned into weaknesses, as SKC found a lot of joy in the wide spaces left where the outside backs would normally sit with four in the back.
Sporting first found the net from a 9th-minute corner, shocking the visitors a bit and breaking up any rhythm that the Loons were starting to build. Though their goal wasn’t necessarily against the run of play, it was a bit sudden and jarring, coming from the match’s very first shot.
After going down, MNUFC’s attempts to get out of their own half were met with interception after interception and turned into dangerous counterattacks. Bongokuhle Hlongwane’s early holdup play didn’t last much longer, nor did it produce anything tangible while it lasted.
In the 22nd minute, SKC capitalized on one of their counters, tearing the Loons apart with some silky passing and finding Dániel Sallói for the tight finish and the 2-0 lead. Their combinations were fluid and fast, leaving the visiting defense with little chance.
From the ensuing restart, Sang Bin Jeong covered most of the field himself. His run ended in a one-on-one duel with Tim Melia, where Sang Bin managed to draw a foul and earn a penalty to give his squad some hope. Unfortunately, his effort from the spot was saved, leaving the deficit at two and taking even more wind out of MNUFC’s sails before the half.
The second half began without either side looking particularly dangerous, though Adrian Heath’s side made the switch to a four-man back line by subbing Brent Kallman off for Franco Fragapane to get a bit more attacking firepower. The change was ultimately unfruitful, though it did help the squad create a bit more of a threat going forward.
The additions of Luis Amarilla and Ménder García later in the half likewise produced a small spark, but nothing tangible.
SKC’s third goal in the 84th put the nail in the coffin, sealing all three points for the home side and leaving the Loons disappointed in their second straight road match.
Despite a better second 45 minutes, MNUFC failed to find their feet in a game in which they created a lot of their own problems. Some nights are just off nights, and that seemed to be the case for the Black and Blue today.
The Loons will be returning home for their next MLS match, playing host to Houston Dynamo on May 17. After earning their first home win last week, they’ll be hoping to return to their winning ways in this midweek tilt.
Minnesota United FC vs. Houston Dynamo FC
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
05.17.23 | MLS Game 12
7:30 pm CT (Watch free on AppleTV’s MLS Season Pass)