As Minnesota recovered from their match against the San Jose Earthquakes, their minds focused on a marquee matchup against Western Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City at home. With only three days to recover, the Loons were going to have to push themselves harder than ever this season.
This week’s match kicked off MLS Heineken Rivalry Week, and while the respect between the sides was clear, there wasn’t any love lost between them either. In the 20th minute Sporting Kansas City took a corner kick that Minnesota cleared out of the box. Midfielder Emanuel Reynoso ran after the ball and sent it forward, but got cleated in the thigh by SKC defender Rémi Walter, who was shown an immediate red. After video review, to clarify the severity of the foul, the call was upheld and SKC had to play with 10 men for the remainder of the match. Throughout the rest of the match, Minnesota created various opportunities to get the ball to the back of the net, but found themselves struggling to finish. The match ended in a 0-0 draw, giving both teams a point to add to their total.
"My overriding thoughts of the whole of last week is that we didn’t get what we deserved,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “San Jose and SKC played a man down for a long period of time and I don’t think our quality in the final third was perhaps good enough. But when I look over the amount of work the players put in I’m disappointed that we only got two points to show, when really we were the better team in all three games."
It’s a disappointment, but getting two points is better than nothing. Currently, Minnesota sits in fifth in the Western Conference with 28 points. Trailing behind are RSL with 27 and San Jose with 26. If Minnesota wants to get a win, it’s clear that finishing is something the team needs to get down.
"We are working hard enough in training, we are certainly getting enough of the ball in the final third; comfortable possession,” said Heath. “The final ball has not helped us and we need one or two things to go our way in the box. It’s just one of those things, we can’t seem to get a bounce to go our way. You’ve got to be honest and say sometimes it’s been poor finishing. Overall, I’ve been delighted with the efforts of the players. They kept going to the very last whistle in all three games. Keep believing in what we are doing, keep getting the ball into the right spots and hopefully it will change."
Traveling to Houston this Saturday, the odds are in the Loons favor, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy match. Minnesota are going to have to secure goals to guarantee themselves three much-needed points in the Texas heat.
“Being on the road and especially with the [potential] humidity, you need to be more tactical with you approach,” said defender Chase Gasper. “If we bomb and press like we do at home in much cooler Minnesota evenings, it’s way different. For the most part our approach will be the same. We are looking forward to trying to get a result.”