Storylines | #SKCvMIN
© Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Storylines | #SKCvMIN

  • Sporting Kansas City is Minnesota United’s closest in-conference MLS neighbor with 452 miles between Allianz Field and Children’s Mercy Park — the Eastern Conference’s Chicago Fire FC are closer with 404 miles to Soldier Field — and so it’s natural that the two teams would get pretty familiar with each other. But between the U.S. Open Cup and the MLS Is Back Tournament and along with the MLS regular season, this will be a staggering 14th meeting between the two sides since MNUFC joined MLS in 2017. Sunday’s game, though, will be the first time that the Loons and SKC meet in the playoffs.

  • In the six games so far that Minnesota United have played at Children’s Mercy Park, the Loons have yet to take a single point. Head Coach Adrian Heath has said before that he has looked to Peter Vermes and his team as something of a model when it comes to how to put together a perennial contender in a smaller Midwestern market, including building in a massive homefield advantage. Both Allianz Field and Children’s Mercy Park sport imposing supporters’ sections (the Wonderwall and the Cauldron, respectively) and both were designed by Populous.

  • After Chris Wondolowski’s wonder goal in the 97th minute sent Sporting Kansas City’s Round One matchup against San Jose Earthquakes to extra time and eventually penalties, the Loons were probably crossing their fingers that the Quakes would pull off the upset. Since Matias Almeyda took over at the start of the 2019 season, MNUFC have won every game between the two sides, home or away, including an authoritative 4-1 win to eliminate San Jose from the MLS Is Back Tournament in the quarterfinals. But in the penalty shootout, goalkeeper Tim Melia was masterful, stopping three shots in a row to dash San Jose’s hopes.

  • While Minnesota’s Kei Kamara at last got the chance to face his most recent club when he came on as a sub in the 68th minute against Colorado Rapids last weekend, he will face the club with which he spent the most time when the Loons travel to Kansas City. Kamara made 113 appearances for SKC (who were the Kansas City Wizards when he got there) between 2009 and 2013 and scored 38 goals in that span. That represents almost 30% of his 130 career goals, a mark that puts him fifth on the all-time scoring list. So far, he has only scored once for Minnesota United — a penalty kick against FC Cincinnati — but that goal made him the only MLS player to score for eight different teams.