August 24, 2018 / 7:41 PM / 4 months ago

Shorthanded and plummeting, Minnesota must figure out surging KC

Teams headed in opposite directions meet Saturday when struggling Minnesota United plays at Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 p.m. CT.

SKC (12-6-6, 42 points) has won three straight, all by shutouts, to climb into a second-place tie in the Western Conference with Los Angeles FC, four points behind FC Dallas.

“We’ve got to finish in the best spot we can to give us the best opportunity with making the playoffs and hopefully getting home advantage at some point,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said.

Minnesota (9-14-2, 29 points) has three losses and tie in its last four matches to put the second-year club ninth in the West.

The Loons are eight points behind Portland and the Los Angeles Galaxy for a postseason berth with nine matches left but should get a boost with the returns from suspensions of defender Francisco Calvo and midfielder Collen Warner.

Minnesota announced Tuesday the signing of Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernando Bob. He is unlikely to be available Saturday as he awaits his international transfer clearance.

Also, injured midfielder Darwin Quintero (calf), who leads Minnesota with 10 goals, will not play, adding to the challenge of winning at Children’s Mercy Park where SKC is 7-2-3.

“It is going to be difficult for us this weekend, but we have to go there with as much confidence as we can,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said. “Can we come up with a game plan that frustrates them and take our opportunities when they arrive?”

SKC’s current shutout streak follows a five-game winless stretch in which it allowed 14 goals.

“We’re getting back to basics, making sure we’re defending well,” Sporting KC defender Seth Sinovic said. “We’re balanced all over the field. Possession has been really good the past few games. Hopefully we can keep that going and keep scoring, as well.”

—Field Level Media

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