May 19, 2018 / 3:41 PM / 9 months ago

Sporting KC expects tough road game in Minnesota

Minnesota United is looking to shake off back-to-back losses and get its season headed back on the right track. A win at home over Western Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City would certainly help.

The Loons (4-7-0) looked like an improved squad, capable of contending for a playoff berth, early in the season. But consecutive losses to Los Angeles FC on the road and at home to San Jose last week have dropped United back below the red line in the Western Conference.

In a lot of ways, Minnesota, in only its second season, looks up to Sporting Kansas City as a club that has excelled in a Midwestern market.

“I just think they’re a model for a club of our size to follow,” United coach Adrian Heath said. “They don’t worry about what L.A. is doing and they don’t worry about what’s going on in New York.”

Sporting KC (7-2-2) has won three of four, including a 2-0 road win over Eastern Conference leader Atlanta on May 9. Sporting has had 11 days off since that match and arrives in Minnesota atop the Western Conference table.

“We don’t look at it as being anything but a tough game,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said of Sunday’s game in Minnesota. “It’s not an easy place to play, that’s for sure, and I think they have a real intensity in the way they play, especially at home. For us, the big thing is matching intensity. At the same time, we’re going to have to play our game in going in there.”

Sporting KC won two of the four meetings with the Loons last season, with a loss and a draw in the two games in Minnesota.

“We did well against them at home last year,” Heath said this week. “I thought the game plan then was very good. We’ll tweak on one or two little pieces that we think we can improve on, but we’re going to have to be good.”

Sporting KC midfielder Felipe Gutierrez will miss the match, recovering from sports hernia surgery.

Minnesota midfielders Sam Cronin, Kevin Molino and Ethan Finlay are out, as well as defender Marc Burch and forward Abu Danladi.

—Field Level Media

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