The midpoint of three consecutive home matches for Sporting Kansas City pits them up against Minnesota United on Saturday night at Children's Mercy Park. The match will begin at 7:30 p.m. CT with coverage stating 30 minutes prior on 38 The Spot with the Sporting KC pregame show.
These two rivals met earlier in the season on July 13 at Allianz Field in Minnesota. After an own goal right before halftime, Johnny Russell entered as a second half substitute and evened the score on Kayden Pierre's first career MLS assist. The match remained nodded up as Sporting left the Twin Cities with a road point.
Here are five things to know about this weekend's battle between Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United.
Kick Childhood Cancer
September is Childhood Cancer month and Saturday, Sept. 17 is Sporting KC's annual Kick Childhood Cancer match presented by Compass Minerals. Pre-match, the Mazuma Plaza will hold a tailgate for former Victory Project honorees and their families and they will be honored at halftime as well. Saturday's match will feature a commemorative edition adidas 2022 MLS Works Kick Childhood Cancer match ball, Kick Childhood Cancer Pre-Match Tops, gold corner flags, gold nets and gold captain armbands. Fans can purchase the pre-match jersey now and MLS will donate all royalties to the Children's Oncology Group. Kid-designed tees and scarves will also be sold at the match in support of The Victory Project.
The Kick Childhood Cancer Auction benefiting the Victory Project is also live. Fans can bid on amazing experiences and team gear to support the Victory Project and all of its efforts to help kids battling cancer and all of life's challenges.
Hot at home
On the field, Sporting will look to ride their current streak of home results on Saturday. Sporting has won four straight home matches, outscoring opponents 12-3 in the process. Kansas City is also in the midst of a five-match unbeaten run after picking up back-to-back draws on the road against the Galaxy and Houston Dynamo a week prior. Sporting's home success began on Aug. 6 against LA when Sporting lit up the Galaxy 4-2. They followed that performance up with a 4-1 chopping of the Timbers and 1-0 shaking of the San Jose Earthquakes. Their most recent triumph came over D.C. United on Tuesday night in the form of a 3-0 thrashing.
This stretch has produced some incredible performances including Willy Agada's brace against LA, Erik Thommy's efforts against the Earthquakes and Robert Voloder's valiant performance against D.C. All three earned spots on the Team of the Week presented by Audi in those respective weeks. Sporting KC will look to keep this up against a team they have had vast success against at home in the past.
Unfriendly confines for Minnesota
In all six trips to Children's Mercy Park in the regular season, Minnesota United have come up unsuccessful. In all six, Sporting is a perfect 6-0-0 tallying 15 goals while conceding just one. Every time the Loons fly south for a regular season match in Kansas City, they are turned away empty-handed. Their lone goal came in a 4-1 defeat on June 3, 2018. Minnesota has one victory in Kansas City, a 2020 Western Conference Semifinals win.
The last meeting at Children's Mercy Park came on Sept. 15, 2021, where Sporting caught the Loons lacking, finding the back of the net four times. Forwards Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell all scored in the first and Cam Duke put the cherry on top in the 52nd. Now it is time for the teams to renew their rivalry.
A little over 452 miles separate Children's Mercy Park and Allianz Field making Minnesota United Sporting's closest geographic opponent. The closeness has not been the only reason for the Sporting's rivalry with Minnesota as they have met 18 times since the Loons came into the league in 2018, more than any other opponent. Sporting holds the edge in the series, going 8-6-4 against Minnesota in all competitions. Thanks to the impressive home record, Sporting is 7-4-4 in the regular season against them. In 2020 at MLS is Back, Minnesota took a 2-1 win from Sporting in the group stages, counting towards the clubs' regular season record.
Shelton has shined in the series scoring four goals and adding an assist in just eight appearances against Minnesota. Russell has found a favorable matchup against Saturday's visitors as well, tallying three goals and eight assists in 11 appearances.
Looking at the Loons
Saturday has major playoff implications. After a two-month stretch in which Minnesota went 8-1-2, they have failed to win in four straight matches, earning just one point in that span. With that drop-off, Minnesota occupies fifth place, five points above the playoff line. Fifth place would not host an Audi MLS Cup Playoff match in the first round and with four matches remaining in their season, Minnesota needs points wherever they can find them.
Minnesota will be traveling to KC without star forward Emanuel Reynoso. The argentine leads Minnesota in goals and assists, accumulating 10 of each. He and Hany Mukhtar are the only players in MLS with double-digit goals and assists. They will turn to forward Luis Amarilla who ranks second on the club with nine goals and five assists. They will also look to All-Star goalkeeper Dayne St. Claire – who ranks fifth in saves with 93 – to stymy the red-hot Sporting KC offense that is averaging 2.43 goals per match since the start of August.