A depleted Sporting KC nonetheless dominated in another home win.
Sporting KC avenged an away loss to Minnesota on Saturday afternoon, winning 3-0 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. An attack devoid of key players still managed one-way traffic for nearly all 90 minutes.
Road struggles continue for Minnesota, which hasn’t won an MLS away match yet. Sporting KC stays hot at home coming off two away losses, staying unbeaten at home this season.
With the win, Sporting KC reaches the top spot in the Western Conference. Minnesota United slides even further from ninth place if Real Salt Lake achieves a result against FC Dallas.
A missed opportunity to capitalize nearly developed in the first half for Sporting KC, but Ike Opara ensured Sporting went into half with the lead. Opara’s shot from 30 yards looked like it may have been a pass, but the attempt skipped across the ground and into a bewildered Bobby Shuttleworth’s goal.
Sporting doubled the lead in the second half as Jimmy Medranda headed a Shuttleworth save into an open net. Medranda was among a number of backups used by Sporting KC amid injury, international duty and red card suspension.
Striker Dom Dwyer entered in the second half, but didn’t start due to a nagging knee injury. Sporting also missed midfielder Roger Espinoza due to red card suspension and Graham Zusi due to international duty. Matt Besler returned from international duty to play 90 minutes on Saturday. He won’t play against Venezuela in the United States’ upcoming friendly, but will be available for its qualifier against Mexico.
In Zusi’s place, right back Saad Abdul-Salaam started his first game of the season. Sporting’s defense hardly felt Zusi’s absence, keeping Minnesota United to only five shots and one on goal in the match. Saad Abdul-Salaam tallied a goal in his first start of the season. He capped off the win with a point-blank strike in the 87th minute as Minnesota United failed to clear their lines.
Minnesota United also operated shorthanded, missing Sam Cronin due to red card suspension. Francisco Calvo and Johan Venegas missed the match due to international duty with Costa Rica.
Sporting and Minnesota meet up midweek for a Wednesday U.S. Open Cup match in Kansas City. Then, Sporting KC stays home to face the Montreal Impact next weekend and Minnesota United takes to the road to face Real Salt Lake.
MAN OF THE MATCH
The Sporting KC back line didn’t have much to worry about on the day thanks to Ike Opara‘s strength at the back. Each Minnesota attack was quickly thwarted by Opara, who made key tackles on Cristian Ramirez each time he attempted to hold up the ball.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Medranda’s goal sealed the deal for an already dominant Sporting KC, but Ike Opara’s goal in first half stoppage time set the tone. Opara capped a dominant first half for Sporting and made the advantage count.
MATCH TO FORGET
It was a particular bad day for Minnesota United central midfielder Collen Warner, who struggled to keep the same workrate as Ibson in the defensive midfield.