Match Recap

Recap: Sporting sinks Minnesota in dominant 3-0 home win

Sporting Kansas City (2-7-3, 9 points) secured its first MLS home win of the season in emphatic fashion on Saturday, prevailing 3-0 against regional rivals Minnesota United FC at Children’s Mercy Park.

Defender Dany Rosero lifted the hosts ahead after nine minutes, forward Daniel Salloi doubled Sporting’s advantage midway through the first half and substitute Gadi Kinda struck late to cap a dominant, wire-to-wire performance versus a Minnesota side that saw its winless skid hit six matches. Sporting veteran Tim Melia also saved a first-half penalty kick from Jeong Sang-bin before exiting with an injury and splitting the clean sheet with fellow goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh.

Riding a two-game winning streak after last Sunday’s breakthrough victory at Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting has improved to a perfect 8-0-0 in regular season home meetings with Minnesota dating back to 2017, outscoring the Loons 22-2 while posting five wins by three goals or more.

Sporting will look to continue its winning ways with a pair of pivotal road matches next week, visiting reigning MLS Cup champion LAFC (6-1-3, 21 points) at 9:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday and expansion rival St. Louis City SC at 8:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, May 20. Both contests will be shown live on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV and the St. Louis clash will also air nationally on FS1.

Presiding over his 449th regular season match as Sporting Kansas City manager, Peter Vermes made one change to the starting lineup from last weekend’s road win over Seattle as Nemanja Radoja—overcoming a hamstring injury for his first MLS appearance since April 1—replaced Kinda in midfield. Veteran center back Andreu Fontas notably played his 100th game for Sporting in all competitions, while captain Johnny Russell eclipsed 150 regular season appearances and 150 starts for the club across all competitions.

The hosts had an immediate stranglehold on proceedings, dominating possession and territory against Minnesota’s new-look 3-5-2 formation. Sporting’s early superiority was rewarded in the ninth minute when Rosero rose above the rest to nod Salloi’s in-swinging corner kick past Minnesota keeper Dayne St. Clair for his first MLS tally and the 21st goal of his career. It was both Sporting’s first goal from a center back and first goal off a corner kick since Sept. 13, 2022, marking the fourth time that Vermes’ side has scored before the 12th minute this season.

Firmly on the backfoot, Minnesota almost conceded again a few minutes later. Striker Alan Pulido sent a venomous blast off the woodwork before Jake Davis, deputizing at right back for the third straight league game, unleashed a long-range wurlitzer that screamed narrowly over the crossbar.

Pulido was integrally involved in Sporting’s second goal on 22 minutes, feinting his way past a hapless Minnesota defender at midfield before carrying the ball 40 yards goalward. He then played a delightful scoop pass into the penalty area for Remi Walter, who clipped an equally impudent backheel into the path of Salloi. The Hungarian winger made no mistake from there, curling a right-footed shot past St. Clair and igniting rapturous celebrations inside the stadium. Salloi, who has scored (three) or assisted (four) on seven of Sporting’s 11 goals this season in all competitions, has become the sixth player in club history to eclipse 40 career goals in regular season play.

The Loons thought they had found a lifeline in the 26th minute when referee Alex Chilowicz awarded Minnesota a penalty kick. Melia was penalized for fouling Sang-bin near the endline, but promptly atoned for his mistake by saving the Korean’s ensuing spot kick and keeping the visitors off the scoreboard. Melia has a .588 goals conceded percentage on penalty kicks (20 of 34) in the regular season, lowest in MLS history among keepers with at least 20 penalties faced, and leads the league with 14 saved penalties since 2015.

Pulido remained a nuisance for the Loons backline, forcing a save from St. Clair in the 28th minute, before Erik Thommy’s blazing free kick from 28 yards fizzed inches over the crossbar. Five minutes into the second half, Pulido threatened again by taking the ball out of the air with a deft first touch, nutmegging Minnesota defender Miguel Tapias and seeing his shot palmed aside.

Melia was called to action once more in the 54th minute. DJ Taylor’s attempted cross was deflected by the outstretched foot of Sporting defender Logan Ndenbe and destined for the far corner of the net, but Melia did brilliantly to leap at full extension and get his outstretched mitt to the ball. Minnesota substitute Franco Fragapane was well-positioned for the rebound but planted his point-blank header high of the target.

Melia’s outing was cut short in the 69th minute due to a hip flexor injury and McIntosh was summoned as a replacement for his third career MLS appearance. The 29-year-old then drew applause from the 17,851 in attendance by thwarting Loons striker Luis Amarilla from close range in the 81st minute, preserving the team’s shutout.

Sporting added icing to the proverbial cake in the 84th minute. Receiving a pass from Thommy, Russell exploited space in the central channel by dashing goalward and slipping a through ball to the feet of Kinda. The Israeli international finished expertly by dinking a shot over the sprawling St. Clair to push the score to 3-0 and seal all three points. It was Kinda’s first goal since Oct. 3, 2021, after missing all of 2022 through injury, while Russell became the third player in club history to eclipse 50 goals and 40 assists in all competitions (Preki, Davy Arnaud) with his incisive pass to set up Kinda.

In the dying embers of the match, Sporting defender Graham Zusi logged his 351st regular season appearance to pass Kyle Beckerman for third-most matches by a player for one club in MLS history. The right back helped Sporting see out the 3-0 result, which vaults the club off the foot of the Western Conference table and only three points below the playoff line.

2023 MLS Regular Season | Match 12
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 17,851
Weather: 80 degrees and sunny

Sporting Kansas City 3-0 Minnesota United FC
Sporting Kansas City (2-7-3, 9 points)
Minnesota United FC (3-5-3, 12 points)

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia (Kendall McIntosh 69'); Jake Davis, Dany Rosero, Andreu Fontas, Logan Ndenbe; Nemanja Radoja (Gadi Kinda 62'), Erik Thommy (Felipe Hernandez 86'), Remi Walter; Johnny Russell (C) (Graham Zusi 86') , Alan Pulido, Daniel Salloi

Subs Not Used: Robert Castellanos, Chris Rindov, Cam Duke, Stephen Afrifa, Marinos Tzionis

Minnesota United FC: Dayne St. Clair; Michael Boxall (C), Brent Kallman (Franco Fragapane 46'), Miguel Tapias; DJ Taylor, Robin Lod, Hassani Dotson (Mender Garcia 65'), Kervin Arriaga, Kemar Lawrence (Zarek Valentin 82'); Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Sang Bin Jeong (Luis Amarilla 65')

Subs Not Used: Eric Dick, Clint Irwin, Joseph Rosales, Wil Trapp, Cameron Dunbar

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Dany Rosero 1 (Daniel Salloi 3) 9'
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 2 (Remi Walter 1, Alan Pulido 1) 22'
SKC -- Gadi Kinda 1 (Johnny Russell 1, Erik Thommy 2) 84'

Misconduct Summary:
SKC -- Dany Rosero (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 21'
MIN -- Miguel Tapias (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 36'
MIN -- Michael Boxall (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 66'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Alex Chilowicz
Assistant Referee: Kyle Atkins
Assistant Referee: Stefan Tanaka-Freundt
Fourth Official: Rosendo Mendoza
VAR: Kevin Terry Jr.
AVAR: Fabio Tovar