Sporting Kansas City is set to take on Minnesota United FC at Children’s Mercy Park in a pivotal Decision Day clash on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT and will be available to stream on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV in English and Spanish, while the match will also be available on the radio locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).
1. WIN OR GO HOME
Sporting Kansas City enters Decision Day with everything to play for as the team hosts Minnesota United FC at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting knows they must win to have a chance of making the postseason, along with one of Portland, Dallas or San Jose dropping points on the final day of the 2023 campaign.
Sporting KC will clinch a berth in the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs if...
- Sporting KC wins vs. Minnesota, AND
- Portland (vs. HOU) or Dallas (at LA) or San Jose (vs. ATX) draw or lose
Sporting KC will be eliminated from 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs contention if...
- Sporting KC draws or loses vs. Minnesota OR
- Sporting KC wins vs. Minnesota, AND
- Portland (vs. HOU) or Dallas (at LA) or San Jose (vs. ATX) win
Saturday’s match is finely poised, as Minnesota finds themselves in the exact same scenario as Sporting, as only a win will do in their chase of the postseason.
Since the start of May, Sporting have gone 11-7-5 in MLS play, scoring 42 goals along the way after going 0-7-3 and scoring just three goals in its first 10 league matches through the end of April. In that span, Sporting lead the West in points (38), wins (11) and goals per game (1.83) while ranking third in goal differential (+7). Sporting’s seven losses during that time are also tied for the fewest in the conference.
2. ALL TO PLAY FOR vs. LOONS
Sporting Kansas City heads into Decision Day still fighting for a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs and will take part in the most intriguing match of the weekend, hosting Minnesota United FC at Children’s Mercy Park in a game where only the winner has a chance to reach the postseason.
Saturday marks the third regular-season meeting between the two sides in 2023, with Sporting going 2-0-0 against the Loons already this season. Sporting hosted Minnesota on May 13 and cruised to a 3-0 win behind goals from Dany Rosero, Daniel Salloi and Gadi Kinda, while Tim Melia also saved a penalty on the night.
Sporting claimed a rare win at Allianz Field last month, earning a narrow 1-0 victory on Sept. 16. After weathering a barrage of Minnesota pressure in the second half, Gadi Kinda came off the bench to score a late winner for Sporting.
Sporting leads the all-time regular-season series with Minnesota 10-4-4, including an unblemished 8-0-0 record at home. However, in the last win or go home match between the two sides at Children’s Mercy Park in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, it was Minnesota who claimed a 3-0 upset victory.
3. PULIDO BOOSTS CASE FOR COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sporting Kansas City forward Alan Pulido notched his 14th goal of ther MLS regular season and his 15th goal in all competitions on Oct. 7 in the crucial 3-2 victory over Real Salt Lake at America First Field.
Pulido stepped up to take a penalty kick late on in the contest and while his effort was saved - his first penalty miss with Sporting - the Mexican was on hand to volley home the rebound with what would stand as the third and game-winning goal of the match following RSL’s furious but ultimately futile comeback attempt.
Pulido, who is a front-runner for MLS Comeback Player of the Year, not only leads the team with 15 goals in all competitions but is also tied for the team lead with 18 goal contributions alongside Erik Thommy.
4. THOMMY SHOWS OFFENSIVE CHOPS vs. RSL
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Erik Thommy was at his scintillating best on Oct. 7 when he led the club to a vital 3-2 victory over Real Salt Lake at America First Field, tallying a goal and an assist on the night.
First, Thommy drew a red card on RSL centerback Justen Glad just 37 seconds into the contest - a decision ultimately made following VAR intervention - before stepping up to fire home the ensuing free kick and give his side an early lead.
Thommy then turned provider, earning a secondary assist on Johnny Russell’s goal later in the first half when his perfectly-weighted pass sent Logan Ndenbe scampering down the left wing who found Russell to convert.
The German attacker now has five goals and 13 assists in all competitions this season, tied with Alan Pulido for the most goal contributions on the team. Thommy has become the fifth player in club history to hit 11 assists in a single regular season, while Sporting are 10-1-3 this season when he tallies a goal or assist. Since joining the club in 2022, Sporting is a perfect 8-0-0 when Thommy scores in the regular season.
5. RUSSELL BACK FROM SUSPENSION, ON THE SCORESHEET
Sporting Kansas City received a timely boost on Oct. 7 with the return of captain Johnny Russell from suspension, and the Scotsman made his mark on the match by tallying the team’s second goal of the eventual 3-2 victory midway through the first half.
Russell had been shown a straight red card following VAR intervention during the 2-1 home win over Houston Dynamo FC on Sept. 23 and missed the club’s 4-1 setback at St. Louis on Sept. 30 while serving his one-game suspension.
Stepping right back into his role as captain in Salt Lake City, Russell led by example and fired home a well-taken first-time finish in the 29th minute for his seventh goal of the season across all competitions.
Now in his sixth season with the club, Russell has tallied 60 goals and 42 assists in 192 matches and is one of just three players in club history to surpass 100 goal contributions.