On Sunday afternoon, Minnesota welcomes Sporting Kansas City to Allianz Field, where the hosts have only lost one of their last six. Can the visitors, who’re no slouches on the road, cause an upset?
This will be the third renewal of this fixture during the 2021 campaign. Back in August, when the pair met for the first time this season, they were locked together at 0-0, though that wasn’t the case when they faced off a month later in Kansas, where SKC won by four goals to nil.
Minnesota – In and out of form
It’s been an up and down campaign for the Minnesota boys, who at times, have looked like a decent outfit, but they’ve failed to really put together a run of form at any point, which is why they’re still flirting with the postseason cut-off point.
Fortunately, their best work has been carried out at this venue, which bodes well ahead of Sunday’s fixture. On their own patch, Adrian Heath’s men have collected 30 points, which is only two points shy of the highest total in the Western Conference. They’ve won nine, tied three and lost only four, which is pleasing. They’ve also fared well defensively, at least in terms of goals conceded, with their total of 13 against the second-best in the west.
Expected Line-Up: Miller – Dotson, Dibassy, Boxall, Metanire – Trapp, Alonso – Lod, Reynoso, Fragapane – Adi.
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Sporting Kansas City – Best in the west
What is unfortunate for Minnesota is that they’re up against the franchise that is just about the best that the western half of Major League Soccer has to offer right now. No team in the division has won more games than SKC, while only the Seattle Sounders have collected more travelling points.
Without being as imperious as they are at home, the visitors have thrived on the road this season, and they arrive here off the back of a huge away win against their main rivals for the Western Conference title. The hosts may be one of the best at stopping goals at home, but SKC are the best in terms of scoring goals on the road.
Expected Line-Up: Pulskamp – Zusi, Isimat-Mirin, Fontas, Martins – Walter, Sanchez, Espinoza – Russell, Kinda, Shelton.
Expert Pick #1 – Minnesota to Score Over 1.5 Goals @-110
Not the biggest scorers, Minnesota may just have an unlikely opportunity to bag a few goals here. Yes, SKC are top dogs in this division, but if we scratch beneath the surface, then their recent travelling efforts don’t exactly point towards defensive security. For a start, the visitors have conceded eight in their last four away games, keeping zero clean sheets. On top of this, they’ve surrendered an expected goals average of 1.72. Add in the fact that the hosts have scored ten in their last five at home, posting xG figures of 2.1, 1.8 and 1.4 in their last three, and home goals start to make plenty of appeal.
Expert Pick #2 – Over 3.5 Goals @+165
Goals have been on the menu for both of late, and it’s not difficult to see another high-scoring fixture occurring on Sunday. After all, four or more have been scored in three of Sporting Kansas City’s last four on the road, while there’s been an average of 3.66 goals in Minnesota’s last three at home.
Expert Pick #3 – Fanendo Adi to Score @+210
Journeyman striker Fanendo Adi has never really settled at a club stateside, but that doesn’t mean that he’s a stranger to producing the goods in short spells. He hasn’t received too much game time since joining Minnesota, but when he has played, he’s offered a threat, and after coming off the bench to score last time out, the Nigerian could feature from the start. If he does, he’s well worth taking as an anytime scorer at the current odds, especially given his average of 0.45 xG and 3.44 shots per 90 minutes.
Minnesota have improved from an offensive point of view at home of late, scoring no shortage of goals, while they face a visiting side that despite being one of the best around, hasn’t exactly been in outstanding defensive form on the road. It would be little surprise if we see goals all round when the duo get down to business at Allianz Field.