Five Things

Sporting Kansas City heads to the land of 10,000 lakes for a matchup against Minnesota United on Wednesday night at Allianz Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT and the match will be broadcast nationally on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.

Wednesday marks the middle of a three-match road trip that began last Saturday against Montreal. Sporting will conclude the road trip this Sunday against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are five things to know for Sporting Kansas City’s Wednesday night clash with Minnesota United.

Nicest rivalry round one

After three matchups last season, Sporting and Minnesota take the pitch on either side of one another for the first time in 2022. The first meeting a season ago produced a scoreless draw, while the second clash concluded in a 4-0 Sporting KC victory with goals from Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell and Cam Duke. Minnesota would take the final battle 2-1 in October.

All-time, Sporting holds a slight advantage in the series, posting an 8-6-3 record in 17 meetings since Minnesota joined Major League Soccer in 2017. Shelton leads all Sporting KC players with four goals against the Loons. Russell has a team-high eight assists against Sporting’s northern rivals. Sporting KC and Minnesota United are set to face off once more in 2022, on Sept. 17 in Sporting’s penultimate 2022 regular season home match.

Midweek match in Minnesota

This season, Sporting has played in four midweek matches, three in the Open Cup and one MLS regular season match. Sporting has been perfect on weekdays, winning all four while scoring 14 goals and conceding just four. Their three Open Cup weekday wins have propelled them all the way to the semifinals where they will face USL Championship side Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday, July 27. The match will take place at Heart Health Park and will be the first time Sporting has visited a lower division team since June 2016 when they defeated then-NASL representatives Minnesota United. Sporting’s lone MLS midweek game was a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids on May 18 featuring two Daniel Salloi goals and four total red cards.

Good start to the road trip

The stretch of three road matches in eight days got off to a sublime start last Saturday with Sporting defeating CF Montreal 2-1 in come-from-behind fashion. Romell Quioto gave the hosts the lead in the 12th minute before Roger Espinoza retaliated with an MLS Goal of the Week caliber strike from 44.14 yards out. Remi Walter’s one-timer from inside the 18 hoisted Sporting into the lead, and clutch goalkeeping from Tim Melia earned the visitors three points.

Saturday was Sporting’s first victory after conceding first. They have now earned three results in their last four road matches and will look to continue that form in Minnesota. The Loons have been solid at home this season but have dropped points on five occasions at Allianz Field. They are in the midst of a three-game win streak, scoring three goals in all three matches.

Offense coming from midfield

With his game-winning goal on Saturday, Walter has a career-high three goals this season. Espinoza’s Goal of the Week contender gives him two goals on the season, one off his career-best which he set in 2018. Sporting KC’s offense has mainly come from star wingers, Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi. Russell’s five MLS goals pace the squad with Salloi close behind with four.

In Open Cup play both have found the back of the net twice. Fellow forward Khiry Shelton and midfielder Felipe Hernandez have also scored twice in the cup while Hernandez leads the team in assists with three. Sporting’s offense has quite literally come from all over the field this season.

Relying on Reynoso

In 2022, the Loons have turned to midfielder Emanuel Reynoso when it comes to just about every facet of the game. He tops the Minnesota charts in goals (seven), assists (five), shots (45), shots on target (18), fouls suffered (55) and fouls committed (34). When Reynoso is not scoring, midfielder Robin Lod picks up the slack, scoring six goals this season. Forward Luis Amarilla has also gotten involved this season, netting five goals, four of which are game-winning goals. A strong Minnesota midfield has the Loons currently above the playoff line as Sporting KC comes to town looking for a second straight road win.