Sporting Kansas City's marked dominance suggested a goal was coming. The team had unleashed a barrage of 16 first-half shots against a wobbly Minnesota United FC side — the most in a half by any MLS team this year — but the breakthrough had evaded Peter Vermes' men heading into first-half stoppage time.
Then, almost out of nowhere, Ike Opara exploited a pocket of space and sent a 30-yard laser into the corner of the net to give Sporting Kansas City its deserved lead. The scoring play highlighted a comprehensive performance from Opara, who landed MLS Team of the Week honors from MLSsoccer.com on Monday for his contributions in a 3-0 victory that lifted Sporting Kansas City to the Western Conference summit.
In addition to scoring his first goal since last July, Opara completed 66 of his 70 passes, led all players with four headed clearances, and added two interceptions and two recoveries. In the 13 matches Opara has started this season, Sporting KC has earned eight shutouts and conceded just six goals.
Goalkeeper Tim Melia was named to MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week bench, equaling his single-season career-high with his league-best eighth clean sheet of 2017. Melia did wonderfully to save Christian Ramirez's near-post strike early in the second half to keep Sporting KC in the driver's seat and improve his league-leading save percentage to 81.5 (per Opta).
Melia and Opara are two of eight Sporting Kansas City players on the fan ballot for the 2017 MLS All-Star Game Fan XI presented by Target. Click here to cast your vote for Sporting KC players.
Boasting a club-record 16-game home unbeaten streak, Sporting Kansas City will return to Children's Mercy Park next Saturday when they face the Montreal Impact at 7 p.m. CT. Tickets are available at SeatGeek.com.