Sporting Kansas City host Minnesota United on Thursday night at 7:30 PM CT (1:30 AM, UK time) for a place in the MLS Cup play-offs Western Conference final.
After finishing top of the West during the regular season, SKC had to negotiate a frantic affair with San Jose Earthquakes to reach this stage. After a dramatic 3-3 draw, which featured two stoppage-time goals, and 30 minutes of sparring in extra-time, Peter Vermes’ side won 3-0 on penalties, with goalkeeper Tim Melia saving all three of his spot-kicks. The veteran stopper is now five for five in penalty shootouts across his career.
Minnesota United — managed by former Everton forward Adrian Heath — finished fourth in the Western Conference but enjoyed a much simpler path to this stage, dispatching Colorado Rapids in a 3-0 home win. A Kevin Molino double either side of a Robin Lod strike was enough to see off Robin Fraser’s men, delivering the Loons’ first-ever MLS Cup play-off victory.
This is perfectly poised to be one of the tightest matches in this play-off series, but only one team can emerge victorious to advance to the Western Conference final.
Where to watch Sporting Kansas City vs Minnesota United on TV:
- UK: Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Football
- US: Fox Sports 1
Where to live stream Sporting Kansas City vs Minnesota United online:
UK: Bet365* are streaming this match live for account holders. Those without a Bet365 account already who are interested in streaming Sporting Kansas City vs Minnesota United live can take advantage of this service by following the simple steps below.
- Click on this link.
- ‘Join now’ and enter details.
- Log in and fund the new account.
- Pick the desired event from among the ‘live now’ or ‘schedule’ sections in Bet365’s ‘live streaming’ category.
*Geo restrictions apply, 18+ only, must have a funded account, BeGambleAware. All odds and offers within this article are accurate at the time of writing (16:15, 01/12/2020)
Sporting Kansas City & Minnesota United’s previous line-ups:
- Sporting KC (vs SJ Earthquakes): Melia; Lindsey, Puncec, Reid, Dia; Ilie; Russell, Espinoza, Busio, Gerso; Shelton.
- Minnesota United (vs Colorado Rapids): St. Clair; Dotson, Boxall, Dibassy, Gasper; Gregus, Hairston; Finlay, Reynoso, Molino; Lod.
DP striker Alan Pulido was left off Vermes’ injury list and will be a welcome boost to SKC’s squad. However, Felipe Gutierrez, Graham Zusi and Matt Besler all remain sidelined.
Tyler Miller, Luis Amarilla and defensive stalwart Ike Opara are out for Minnesota United but Hassani Dotson is ready to start once again and could feature at full-back or in midfield. Right-back Romain Metanire is available.
Players to watch:
Sporting Kansas City
The fact that SKC were able to score three goals against the Quakes without star forward Alan Pulido is testament to both Vermes’ managerial skills and the exciting nature of the squad he’s built. Gianluca Busio, Khiry Shelton and Scotland international Johnny Russell all stepped up admirably in his absence.
However, Pulido is once again fit and ready to take to the field and Vermes is sure to start him in this play-off encounter.
The 29-year-old Mexico international was limited to just 14 appearances across the MLS regular season and MLS is Back tournament thanks to injury, but still managed seven goals and five assists during that time, enough to earn him a nomination for the MLS Newcomer of the Year award.
Pulido is a superb hold-up player, able to defend possession and bring his fellow forwards into play, but it’s his finishing and striker’s instincts which most attracted SKC to his signature in the first place — qualities which will be required against a tough Minnesota side.
If this game were being played in 2019, you might expect Minnesota to sit back and soak up pressure before hitting SKC on the break. However, with key defender Opara injured, the Loons will have to be a little more proactive, putting their stamp on this game right from the off. Lucky for Heath, he has a forward in the form of his life available to him in Kevin Molino, who grabbed a brace in Minnesota’s first-round win over the Rapids last week.
Molino, a 48-time international for Trinidad and Tobago, has notched 11 goals and three assists in 20 appearances across all competitions this season, including four goals in his last two games.
Against the Rapids, he displayed control, composure and incredible skill to lead the Loons to a memorable victory and with SKC’s backline looking a little fragile against the Quakes, Molino might well be the match-winner again here.
Scoreline prediction: Sporting KC 1-2 Minnesota United (AET)
Compare football odds to get the best in the market using the Oddspedia tool below. Selecting a price will take you to the bookmaker’s sign-up page, where you can register, claim whatever welcome offer is available to new customers and place your bet. (18+ only, Be Gamble Aware)
More live stream options: