For those of you who Twitter, it was nearly impossible to avoid the flood of tweets as happy fans and supporters made their way down interstate 35 to the far reaches of the Kansas City, Kan. suburbs. For the fans, they looked like they had a good time, both on the trip down and during the game. For their nonstop singing and chanting, the team named them Player of the Match, which was appropriate as Minnesota struggled in all facets of their game against Sporting Kansas City.
Minnesota United came into this game missing some key pieces. Francisco Calvo and Johan Venegas were on international duty with Costa Rica, Sam Cronin was suspended for a tackle last week, and Abu Danladi was still struggling with a groin injury. But, on the flip side, both Bashkim Kadrii and Rasmus Schüller, starters on opening day, were back in the gameday 18 after long absences due to injuries.
Bobby Shuttleworth again was in goal and in place of Calvo in the back line was Jermaine Taylor. While he hadn’t acquitted well playing full back, center back is his natural position. Brent Kallman, his partner in the middle of the defense, wore the arm band. The full backs were the same, with Marc Burch on the left and the Swiss Jérôme Thiessen on the right.
Head coach Adrian Heath put Collen Warner in for Cronin, but the two play a very different style of game. While Cronin is in many ways a prototypical defensive midfielder, Collen Warner plays as a No. 8, or box to box midfielder. With the unpredictable Ibson in the midfield beside him, would Minnesota be exposed in the midfield?
Minnesotan Ismaila Jome was once again starting on the left while Miguel Ibarra went to the right to fill in for Molino who started the game as the second forward behind Christian Ramirez.
A month ago, Minnesota had found a solid lineup that gave it a chance to compete in every game. Now, with injuries and international call ups, the team’s thin lineup was being exposed.
Could these young or out-of-favor players step up and prove them capable to compete for a starting spot on Minnesota? Or would Sporting Kansas City exploit the Loons’ potential weaknesses.
It turned out to be the latter.
Minnesota started the game playing with one aim in mind. Frustrate SKC’s players with constant fouling, play deep and hope to catch them on the counter with the speed of Ibarra or Jome, the creativity of Molino or the right boot of Ramirez.
Early on, that had to be thrown out when Ibarra went out in the 8’ with a calf injury. In came Schüller, another box-to-box midfielder and switch to a 4-3-3. With the sudden shift, Minnesota struggled to have much possession, and left large gaps in their defense.
Sporting Kansas City exploited all the space on the field, but some poor finishing and heroic defending kept Minnesota in the game.
As the teams went deeper into added time in the first half, it looked like Minnesota would make it back to the locker rooms lucky to keep the scoreline level. Instead, defender Ike Opara found himself with plenty of space deep in Minneota’s half. His low rocket caught the leg of Jimmy Medranda. That slight deflection was enough to keep Shuttleworth from having any play on it and, with a minute left in the half, Sporting Kansas City was up one.
Minnesota started the second half more organized and began putting together some decent periods of possession. Ramirez was even able to get a shot on goal. The Loons couldn’t make anything of it, and Sporting Kansas City managed to double the lead and put the game out of reach for the visitors.
SKC’s second was another strange goal. Benny Feilhaber was fouled outside of the box, but the referee gave advantage when Sporting KC kept possession. Still, Minnesota seemed to stop playing, which gave Soony Saad a chance to rip one from just outside the box.
His shot went in off the the top crossbar, but ricocheted back out again. Medranda was there to head it back in, and was ultimately credited with the goal.
Minnesota brought in Kadrii in place of Jome, but rust and poor linking play between the midfield and forwards meant that he wasn’t able to jump-start the offense.
The final substitution would be Justin Davis for Burch, who was hobbled. So Minnesota wouldn’t be able to bring on anyone else to help with the attack.
A late goal by Saad Abdul-Salaam finished the scoring for Sporting Kansas City and ensured that Minnesota would lose another game on the road.
— FiftyFiveOne (@FiftyFiveOne) June 3, 2017
— FiftyFiveOne (@FiftyFiveOne) June 3, 2017
Sporting Kansas City 3 – Minnesota United FC 0
Stadium: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
Kickoff: 4:00 p.m. (CDT)
Weather: 86°, Sunny
Ike Opara (45+2′)
Jimmy Medranda (54′)
Saad Abdul-Salaam (87′)
Ismaila Jome (7′, Not Retreating)
Benny Feilhaber (12′, Unsporting Behavior)
Collen Warner (23′, Unsporting Behavior)
Bobby Shuttleworth (43′, Time wasting)
Tim Melia (44′, Unsporting Behavior)
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