Match Preview

Match Preview: Playoff hopes on the line as Sporting hosts Minnesota in regular season finale on Saturday

Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC
2023 MLS Regular Season | Match 34
Saturday, October 21 | 8 p.m. CT (8:15 kickoff)
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kan.

Broadcast Schedule:
Apple TV | MLS Season Pass
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
Satellite Radio | SiriusXM FC

Sporting Kansas City will host Minnesota United FC at 8 p.m. CT on Saturday at Children's Mercy Park with both teams needing a win on the final day of the regular season in order to reach the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Western Conference playoff race features five teams chasing the final three postseason berths and all seven Western Conference matches will kick off simultaneously on Saturday with live coverage on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. Tied in 10th place on 41 points, Sporting and Minnesota can finish anywhere from 7th to 12th in the West with the top nine teams qualifying for the playoffs when the dust settles on Decision Day.


  • The winner of SKCvMIN will clinch a playoff berth if Portland, Dallas or San Jose draw or lose


  • The loser of SKCvMIN will be eliminated from playoff contention.
  • Both teams in SKCvMIN will be eliminated from playoff contention in a draw.
  • The winner of SKCvMIN will be eliminated from playoff contention if Portland, Dallas and San Jose all win

Tickets for Fan Appreciation Night are available fee-free at SeatGeek , including standing-room only tickets. The first 2,500 fans in attendance when gates open at 6 p.m. will receive a Sporting KC clear bag courtesy of match sponsor UMKC. Fans can take advantage of 50% off value menu items and $2 off all canned beers at Children's Mercy Park concessions as well as 50% off secondary jerseys with free customization at SportingStyle. In addition, Sporting Pay users will be gifted $10 in loaded value and a token for a free popcorn, and fans can also take home a team poster courtesy of a post-match giveaway at the gates.

After going winless in the club's first 10 matches (0-7-3) from Feb. 27 to April 29, Sporting Kansas City have rallied to record the most points, the most wins and the most goals per game of any team in the Western Conference since the start of May. The remarkable resurgence now has Sporting in position to potentially clinch a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season -- a memorable feat the club has achieved on four previous occasions (2002, 2007, 2015, 2016), including twice at Children's Mercy Park.

In fact, the club's win on Decision Day in 2015 started a streak in which Sporting KC is unbeaten in 12 straight October home matches across all competition (10-0-2). Similarly, club captain Johnny Russell has scored nine career regular season goals in October which not only ranks as the most in the month in club history, but also ranks second most among all active MLS players.

Russell has scored in his last two appearances, leading Sporting to a 2-1 win over Houston in the team's last home match on Sept. 23 and a 3-2 road result at Real Salt Lake on Oct. 7 in the club's last outing. The Scottish winger has proven to be particularly productive in the all-time series with Minnesota, recording 13 goal contributions (three goals, 10 assists) in 14 regular season appearances.

Sporting Kansas City's attack also features Mexican striker Alan Pulido, who leads the squad with 15 goals in all competitions -- including an MLS-best 13 goals since the start of June - after missing the 2022 season due to injury. Fellow Designated Player Erik Thommy is tied with Pulido for the team lead with 18 goal contributions this season across all competitions (five goals, 13 assists).

The team's third Designated Player, Gadi Kinda, has come off the bench to score in both previous match-ups with Minnesota United FC this season, sealing a 3-0 win at home on May 13 and providing a late game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory on the road last month. Sporting has won three straight in the series and has emerged victorious in all eight regular season home meetings against Minnesota - a streak that stands as the longest active home winning streak in an MLS match-up and that ties the club's longest regular season home winning streak against any opponent.

Sporting has faced the Loons 21 times in all competitions -- more than any other opponent -- since Minnesota joined MLS in 2017, however Saturday's match will be the first since interim head coach Sean McAuley was appointed on Oct. 6 after Adrian Heath had been in charge of the club's first seven seasons. One day later on Oct. 7, Minnesota made a statement with a 5-2 win over the LA Galaxy highlighted by four goals in 31 minutes -- tying the fastest four-goal span in MLS history -- from summer signing Teemu Pukki.

The 33-year-old Finnish international, who started a pair of UEFA EURO qualifiers within the past week, has contributed 10 goals in 13 MLS appearances since debuting in July. Pairing with Pukki in the attack is South African striker Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who leads Minnesota with 17 goals in all competitions this season, and Argentine playmaker Emanuel Reynoso, who has 54 goal contributions (22 goals, 32 assists) in the past four years.

Saturday's Western Conference clash will be available on Apple TV in English and Spanish for MLS Season Pass subscribers. Radio coverage will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM with streams in the Sporting KC app in addition to a simulcast on SiriusXM FC. Pub partners in the Sporting Pub Network will also show all of the action including a watch party at No Other Pub (1370 Grand Blvd.) in the KC Power & Light District starting at 7 p.m. and featuring $4 domestics, $5 wells and 50% off select appetizers.