Preview: Sporting continues race for first place with Sunday's regular season home finale vs. Minnesota

Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC
2020 MLS Regular Season | Match 21
Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020 | 6:30 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV | FOX Sports Kansas City
English TV | FOX Sports Midwest
Streaming | FOX Sports GO or ESPN Plus
English Radio | ESPN 94.5 FM
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM

StandingsHow to Watch | Five Things to Know | By The Numbers
Playoff MathMatchCenter | Match Notes | Media Assets

Chasing first place in the Western Conference as the home stretch of the MLS campaign continues, Sporting Kansas City (11-6-3, 36 points) will return to Children's Mercy Park on Sunday for the club's regular season home finale against regional rivals Minnesota United FC (8-5-6, 30 points).

Tickets for the marquee matchup are available at SeatGeek.com and all supporters in attendance will have the opportunity to purchase any Sporting Kansas City primary or secondary kit at 50% off as part of the Ivy Investments jersey sale. Fans in the stadium and at home can also access the Sporting KC app for in-game updates and exclusive offers, including a digital coupon for free Chips Ahoy cookies redeemable at any Kansas City area Price Chopper location through Tuesday, Nov. 3.

FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest and FOX Sports GO will provide three hours of live coverage on Sunday beginning at 6 p.m. CT. The contest will also air live locally on ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM, with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 94.5 FM. Viewers outside of the FOX Sports Midwest footprint can stream the action on ESPN Plus.

No MLS club had more wins (five) or points (16) during the month of October than Sporting, which claimed five regular season victories in a single month for the first time since April 2000 and punched a ticket to the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs following a 1-0 win over FC Cincinnati on Wednesday at Nippert Stadium. Since the start of October, Alan Pulido, Gadi Kinda and Erik Hurtado have all bagged multiple goals, defenders Winston Reid and Andreu Fontas have opened their MLS scoring accounts and goalkeeper Tim Melia has recorded three shutouts. Wednesday's triumph over Cincinnati was decided by a 57th-minute Roger Espinoza strike and saw Peter Vermes notably become the first MLS head coach to lead a single club to nine playoff appearances.

Sporting can clinch a home playoff game and a top-four finish in the West with a win or a draw Sunday against a Minnesota side that hasn't lost since Sept. 23. The Loons are 3-0-3 in their last six matches, equaling the longest active unbeaten run in MLS. Kevin Molino (seven goals), Robin Lod (six goals), Jan Gregus (six assists) and defensive lynchpin Michael Boxall have all shouldered integral roles under fourth-year head coach Adrian Heath, who guided Minnesota to the postseason for the first time last fall. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, who won the starting job midway through the 2020 campaign, has also impressed with five shutouts and a 0.91 goals against average in 11 appearances.

Major League Soccer announced Thursday that conference standings and playoff seedings will be determined on a points per game basis. This decision addressed the fact that clubs across the league will finish the regular season with an uneven number of matches played due to COVID-19 complications. The move from total points to points per game saw Sporting drop from first to second place in the West, but Vermes’ men nevertheless have plenty to play for this weekend. A point on Sunday would guarantee that the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs return to Children's Mercy Park after Sporting's club-record eight-year postseason streak ended in 2019.

Sporting and Minnesota have met 13 times across all competitions since the Loons joined MLS in 2017. Three of those meetings have taken place in 2020, including a 2-1 Minnesota victory at the MLS is Back Tournament on July 12, a 2-1 road triumph for Sporting on Aug. 21, and a tightly contested 1-0 decision on Sept. 13 in which Sporting's Johnny Russell found the back of the net in the 80th minute.

Sporting are 7-4-2 against Minnesota in all competitions—a mark that includes a perfect 6-0-0 record at home. The Loons have managed just one goal on their six visits to Kansas City while allowing 15. Each of the last two meetings at Children’s Mercy Park have been decided by late and dramatic Sporting goals in 1-0 results.

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