The Loons are fighting for their playoff lives, currently even with Real Salt Lake but with fewer wins and a worse goal differential than RSL, while KC are ahead of the Seattle Sounders for those exact reasons and also with a game in hand on the Rave Green.
With only two games remaining, Minnesota are in the unenviable position of chasing down other teams in the standings.
Adrian Heath described his team's play as comfortable on Wednesday when they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Vancouver Whitecaps, which is not what you expect to see from your team with so much at stake this late in the year.
It was the second straight game in which Minnesota seemingly controlled the tempo but failed to take their chances, which is not the first time that we have said that about this side who are third in the league in shots with an average of 14.8 per game and fifth in chances per game at 10.8, but they are the second-lowest scoring team in the Western Conference with 37 goals.
Minnesota have certainly looked very comfortable at home this season with a goals-against average of 0.81, allowing only 13 goals in 16 matches at Allianz Field, the second-lowest total in the league.
Scoring is undoubtedly not their strong suit or the DNA of this team, especially when facing the Wizards, a side that have kept them off the scoresheet in their last three encounters, with Minnesota failing to find the back of the net in seven of their 12 total meetings with KC.
It is crunch time for the Loons at this point, a side who came into 2021 on the back of an appearance in the Western Conference final last year, but at the moment they are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2018.
Throughout the year, Sporting KC have rolled with the punches, showing a ton of consistency and resiliency, and now they are in a position to finish on top of the Western Conference for a second successive regular season campaign.
This team have plenty of big moment players who can step up and be the hero at any given time, and it is evident that manager Peter Vermes has them well-prepared to come into any situation and thrive.
With their 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday, Vermes set an MLS record with 17 combined playoff appearances as a player (seven) and a manager (10), surpassing Bruce Arena and Kyle Beckerman, who have 16 as a coach and player respectively.
KC are extremely dangerous when they can get their wingers isolated in one on one situations, and their speed, intelligence and quality is difficult to defend.
If you want to beat this team, you had better not fall behind, as the Wizards know how to close out a game better than probably any MLS side, going 11-0-1 this year when leading at the half and 13-0-1 when being in front after 75 minutes.
A win on Sunday would not only keep KC in first in the west, but it would guarantee that they finish the regular season no worse than second while also assuring them a place in the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League.
Fanendo Adi scored his first goal as a Loon in injury time in their 2-1 defeat at Vancouver, while Emanuel Reynoso has been the catalyst for most of the Minnesota attacks this year, with 10 assists in 2021 and leading the league in duels won (250) and second in chances created (90).
Chase Gasper missed their match on Wednesday because of yellow card accumulation, and while he is eligible to return, do not expect to see Justin McMaster back this weekend as he continues to suffer from a thigh injury.
Numerous Loons players reached milestones in midweek, including Wil Trapp, who picked up his 250th MLS cap, Tyler Miller appeared in his 100th game in the league and Osvaldo Alonso made his 50th regular-season start for MUFC.
Kansas City leading goalscorer Daniel Salloi and midfielder Jose Mauri are missing time because of ankle injuries, Alan Pulido is out with a knee problem, Felipe Hernandez is suspended, Jaylin Lindsey remains on the sidelines because of a hamstring issue and Tim Melia was suspended versus the Galaxy due to violent conduct in their previous match versus Seattle.
Johnny Russell was named the MLS Player of the week on Thursday, scoring twice in the victory over LA, Gadi Kinda was the provider in that match, picking up his first multi-assist game in MLS and at 20-years-old John Pulskamp became the youngest goalkeeper in Wizards history to collect a clean sheet, stopping the only two shots that he faced on Wednesday.
Midfielder Remi Walter had a 100% pass accuracy in their previous match, completing all 35 of the passes that he made, while his fellow French countryman Nicolas Isimat-Mirin made his second straight start in central defence, as KC now have a 5-1-3 record when he begins a match.
Minnesota United possible starting lineup:
Miller; Dotson, Dibassy, Boxall, Gasper; Gregus, Trapp; Finlay, Reynoso, Lod; Adi
Sporting Kansas City possible starting lineup:
Melia; Zusi, Fontas, llie, Martins; Walter, Kinda, Espinoza; Russell, Shelton, Harris
We say: Minnesota United 1-2 Sporting Kansas City
Sporting KC are 7-3-3 all-time in the regular season versus the Loons, and they look just as good without their top goalscorer as they did with him.
Minnesota are a well-organized side defensively, but aside from Robin Lod and Reynoso, their depth up front is lacking and given their position in the table, they need to be more aggressive in their approach, which should give KC a lot of opportunities in transition.
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