Preview: Conference Semifinals

Preview | #SKCvMIN

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
Children’s Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
12.3.2020 | Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs | Western Conference Semifinal
7:30 p.m. CT (FOX, FOX Deportes, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)

2020 Records:
SKC 12-6-3 (5-3-1 at home)
MIN: 9-5-7 (3-4-2 on the road)

Following a lopsided 3-0 win over Colorado Rapids in Round One, Minnesota United move on to the Western Conference Semifinals of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since joining MLS in 2017. Key players Kevin Molino, Robin Lod and newcomer Emanuel Reynoso were instrumental in Minnesota’s victory. Midfielder Emanuel Reynoso tallied three assists in the game, two of which were finished by Molino and one by Lod. The chemistry of the attacking midfield has grown down the stretch and will be key for MNUFC as they look to face rivals Sporting Kansas City in the semifinals. If Minnesota can come away victorious, it will be the first time they’ve taken points from Blue Hell in their MLS history.

THE OPPOSITION
After missing the playoffs entirely last season, Sporting Kansas City rode a late-season surge to the top spot in the Western Conference and a Round One matchup with San Jose Earthquakes. Gianluca Busio’s strike to make it 3-2 in the 91st minute appeared to sink the Quakes, but Chris Wondolowski drew the visitors level with a stunner in the 97th. In the penalty shootout, goalkeeper Tim Melia dominated by turning away three consecutive San Jose attempts, giving SKC the first 3-0 penalty shootout result in MLS history. As the semifinals approach, SKC await the highly anticipated matchup against the Loons with a homefield advantage.

CHASE GASPER ON WHAT MAKES THIS GROUP SO SPECIAL

“I just think the camaraderie. I’ve never really been on a team where everyone is this friendly, this close and I can truly say that everyone is friends on the team. No one dislikes each other, there are no problems. It’s just fun. You look forward to coming to the locker room every day, talking and joking around with your friends and then to come out on the field and work hard, play with them, it’s a very rewarding feeling. It’s the team camaraderie.”
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ADRIAN HEATH ON THE INTIMIDATION OF PLAYING IN KANSAS CITY

“If I’m being perfectly honest, I’ve said this before, we haven’t played well. It is an intimidating atmosphere but that’s because of the opposition. Everybody knows I’ve got an incredible respect for Peter [Vermes] and his staff from what they’ve done there. This is a good team, top of the West. We know what’s coming. But Peter also knows that if we play like we can, this is not going to be easy for them and that’s all I’m looking for, for us to put our A game on the field. And if we do, we’ll take whatever comes our way. Certainly, we know it’s going to be tough, but we’re not going to go there afraid of competing and trying to win this game.”

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STORYLINES
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.

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FIRST TOUCHES

This semifinal match will be the fourth time these teams have met in 2020.

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SOUND OF THE LOONS: THE NICEST RIVALRY IN SPORTS, PART 157

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