Storylines is here to find the keys for Minnesota to claim supremacy in the 15th edition (MLS regular season only) of the Nicest Rivalry in Sports, as Sporting Kansas City makes their way north to face one of the hottest teams in the league.
KEEP THE HEAT
The fact that Minnesota has now scored three goals in three consecutive fixtures is one of the most notable facts from the Loons’ three-game winning streak, their first in three years. Similarly, when reviewing Kansas City’s season, the fact that Sporting has failed to score three goals in any single game this MLS season could prove to be fatal should the Loons continue their offensive rampage. Kansas City’s 34 goals allowed this season is the fifth-most of any MLS team, and a Minnesota front four that is firing on all cylinders is likely licking their lips at the sight of a Sporting team that hasn’t kept a clean sheet since the beginning of May. Minnesota’s defense, seeking its first clean sheet since April, also likely could find optimism in Kansas City’s tied-for-league-worst 18 goals scored in 2022. The Loons are the form team in this match both recently and on the season, and should look to maintain that impression.
That last clean sheet that Minnesota achieved was in an often-referenced 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire, one of the other teams tied with Kansas City as the league’s lowest scoring. The Loons have largely been successful in their other matchups with teams currently residing in the basement of the MLS standings, with wins over San Jose (last in the West, 1-0 in March), Chicago (last in the East, 3-0 in April) and Colorado (third-lowest in the West, 3-1 in April). For the Loons to maintain their winning streak and rise even higher in the standings, they will need to take care of their business against both Kansas City (second-lowest in the West) and this weekend against D.C. United (second-lowest in the East). Entering the Kansas City game, Minnesota is 4-1-5 against teams below them in the Supporters’ Shield standings, a figure which will need to improve if they are to remain above some of those teams in those very standings.
As Minnesota’s attack has found its groove in the last two weeks, contributions have come from all over the pitch. Of the eleven players who started Friday’s win over Vancouver, only centerbacks Michael Boxall and Bakaye Dibassy and midfielder Wil Trapp are without either a goal or assist in Minnesota’s winning streak. That’s correct: eight of the eleven starters have registered either a goal or assist in the last three games, and that’s with Robin Lod playing in a position he’s never played in for Minnesota in two of those three games due to absences in the center of midfield. It will be interesting to see if, should Joseph Rosales or Kervin Arriaga be available, Adrian Heath chooses to return Lod to his spot further up the field and adjust the balance of a team that appears in the best scoring form of any team in MLS.
Minnesota United FC v. Sporting KC
Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota
Wednesday, July 13
7:00 pm CT (MLS LIVE on ESPN+, Bally Sports North EXTRA, The CW - Twin Cities, 1500 ESPN)