Sporting Kansas City (13-5-7, 46 points) surged to first place in the Western Conference following a rampant 4-0 win over Minnesota United FC (8-8-7, 31 points) on Wednesday night at Children's Mercy Park.

Forwards Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell all found the back of the net before halftime and Cam Duke added a fourth goal early in the second half as Sporting sealed a comprehensive victory against their Midwestern rivals and displaced Seattle Sounders FC at the summit of the West. Outplayed over the course of 90 minutes, the visiting Loons failed to put a shot on target and suffered their sixth regular season loss at Children’s Mercy Park in as many visits.

With consecutive shutout home wins under their belt, Sporting is off this weekend and will return to Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday, Sept. 26, for a monumental showdown with second-place Seattle (13-4-6, 45 points) at 6 p.m. CT. Tickets for the marquee matchup are available at SeatGeek.com as a pair of MLS Cup contenders lock horns on FS1 and FOX Deportes.

Manager Peter Vermes—who now accounts for over half of Sporting’s all-time regular season wins as head coach—made three changes to Sporting’s lineup from a 2-0 home win over Chicago FC on Saturday, bringing Shelton, Duke and Roger Espinoza into the starting XI. Alan Pulido and Remi Walter were sidelined with minor knee injuries, while Gadi Kinda rested in observation of Yom Kippur.

Minnesota endured a miserable evening but could have landed the first punch after threatening twice within five minutes of kickoff. Ethan Finlay’s sledgehammer from the top of the box caromed off the crossbar before Adrien Hunou’s bouncing header off a Franco Fragapane delivery skipped narrowly wide.

Shelton and Sporting drew first blood in the 14th minute, commencing a period of extended dominance for the hosts. Left back Luis Martins sprung Salloi free down the left flank, and although the Hungarian’s venomous blast was repelled by Minnesota goalkeeper Tyler Miller, Shelton was on hand to head home off the rebound for his second goal of the campaign and his first at Children’s Mercy Park since Sept. 2, 2020. Sporting have now scored in a club-record 28 regular season home matches dating back to August 2019, the longest active streak in MLS.

Vermes’ men had their tails up and asked further questions of the Loons defense near the half-hour mark. Russell emerged from a scrap on the right wing and forced Miller into a save at the near post before Shelton culminated a lightning-quick attack involving Espinoza and Duke by smashing a first-time shot off the right goal post from 15 yards. Not long later, Salloi misfired by the slimmest of margins after connecting with Duke’s clever cross.

Salloi wouldn’t be denied in the 36th minute, latching onto Russell’s superb cutback pass and unleashing a turf-trimming rocket that screamed through traffic and past Miller. The MLS All-Star winger is third in MLS with 13 goals and his 19 combined goals and assists are tied for the league lead.

Sporting were far from finished and grabbed a third on the cusp of intermission. Shelton beat Miller to an Espinoza long ball over the top and was tripped by the Minnesota keeper inside the box. Referee Robert Sibiga did not initially award a foul, but VAR Sorin Stoica prompted a review of the play and Sibiga subsequently gave Sporting a penalty kick. Russell stepped to the spot and confidently slotted low into the right corner for his 31st regular season goal, tied for seventh most in club history. The Scottish winger is one of six MLS players with six goals and six assists this season and has scored in three consecutive appearances at Children’s Mercy Park.

The second period unfolded with a slower tempo, but not before Duke rounded out the scoring after 52 minutes. Shelton fought off a pair of tacklers and fed Russell on the right edge of the box. Sporting’s captain dinked the ball past his defender and uncorked a driven cross that Duke expertly steered into the net for his second goal of the year. With his second assist of the game, Russell became only the second MLS player since 2018 (Carlos Vela) to record 30 goals and 30 assists in regular season play.

Russell went agonizingly close to adding to his haul in the 73rd minute, heading goalward off a pinpoint Graham Zusi cross, but Miller produced an impressive reflex save to spare his team further blushes.

With the victory comfortably secure, Vermes brought three Sporting KC Academy products off the bench in the late stages. Winger Grayson Barber and striker Wilson Harris entered the fray prior to 19-year-old midfielder Jake Davis making his club debut as an 89th-minute substitute.

2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 25
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 16,888
Weather: 76 degrees and clear

Sporting KC 4-0 Minnesota United FC
Score
1
2
F
Sporting Kansas City (13-5-7, 46 points)
3
1
4
Minnesota United FC (8-8-7, 31 points)
0
0
0

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ilie Sanchez, Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins; Jose Mauri, Roger Espinoza (Jake Davis 89'), Cam Duke; Johnny Russell (C), Khiry Shelton (Wilson Harris 87'), Daniel Salloi (Grayson Barber 83')
Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Amadou Dia, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Roberto Puncec, Kaveh Rad

Minnesota United FC: Tyler Miller; Romain Metanire, Michael Boxall (C), Bakaye Dibassy, DJ Taylor (Jukka Raitala 58'); Jacori Hayes (Joseph Rosales 58'), Wil Trapp; Ethan Finlay, Adrien Hunou, Franco Fragapane (Brent Kallman 58'); Fanendo Adi (Robin Lod 67')
Subs Not Used: Dayne St. Clair, Adrian Zendejas

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Khiry Shelton 2 (unassisted) 14'
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 13 (Johnny Russell 6, Roger Espinoza 1) 36'
SKC -- Johnny Russell 6 (penalty kick) 45'
SKC -- Cam Duke 2 (Johnny Russell 7, Khiry Shelton 6) 52'

Misconduct Summary:
MIN -- Franco Fragapane (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 50'

Match Statistics
Stat
SKC
MIN
Shots
12
10
Shots on Goal
8
0
Saves
0
4
Fouls
10
9
Offsides
0
2
Corner Kicks
3
3

Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Referee: Kyle Atkins
Assistant Referee: Logan Brown
Fourth Official: Elvis Osmanovic
VAR: Sorin Stoica
AVAR: Jozef Batko