Winners of three straight games, second-place Sporting Kansas City (12-6-6, 42 points) returns to Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Saturday to play host to Minnesota United FC (9-14-2, 29 points) at 7:30 p.m.
A limited number of tickets for the Western Conference clash are available at SeatGeek.com and the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a free camo bandana.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus will televise three hours of live coverage beginning at 7 p.m., while listeners can catch the action on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish). The game will stream live on FOX Sports GO for viewers within the FOX Sports Midwest footprint and on ESPN+ elsewhere across the country.
In conjunction with Saturday’s match, Sporting KC will host the second annual Sporting Salutes, an immersive military appreciation night recognizing the sacrifices of service personnel and their families across all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
With approximately 140,000 military veterans living in the Kansas City metropolitan area, the initiative will give Sporting KC and its supporters the opportunity to express gratitude to those who have served the country.
Sporting Salutes will be highlighted by a special pregame ceremony honoring local veterans of World War II.
Manager Peter Vermes’ men have hit their stride during the month of August, rattling off three consecutive shutout victories in a single season for the fifth time in club history.
Goalkeeper Tim Melia has become the eighth MLS goalkeeper to keep 10 clean sheets in back-to-back years, manning the posts for a Sporting KC outfit that sits four points behind first-place FC Dallas.
Sporting KC’s uptick has coincided with the emergence of forward Diego Rubio, who scored twice in last weekend’s 3-0 home win over the Portland Timbers.
The Chilean ranks among the most efficient attackers in MLS this year, leading the league with 1.21 goals per 90 minutes. Furthermore, his 60.0 scoring percentage – calculated by dividing his goal total (six) by his shot total (10) – is currently the second best in MLS history for a single season.
Minnesota’s campaign in MLS has been characterized by strong performances at home and abysmal results on the road. The Loons’ away record dropped to a league-worst 1-10-1 following a 2-0 defeat to FC Dallas last Saturday, which pushed the club’s winless skid to four games.
To complicate matters for head coach Adrian Heath, star forward Darwin Quintero could miss Saturday’s contest with a leg injury. The Colombian has posted team-highs with 10 goals and nine assists during an excellent debut season in MLS.
With Quintero listed as questionable and longtime Minnesota striker Christian Ramirez acquired by LAFC in a trade earlier this month, the Loons will rely on designated player Angelo Rodriguez up top. The 29-year-old joins veteran playmaker Miguel Ibarra (six goals, seven assists) among the side’s most dangerous attacking threats.
Sporting KC enters Saturday with a plus-15-goal differential that ranks first in the Western Conference.
While Rubio has been the man in form of late, sustained production from wingers Johnny Russell (eight goals, six assists) and Daniel Salloi (seven goals, seven assists) has helped the club amass 45 regular-season goals, already five more than its 2017 total with 10 games still to play.
Minnesota is the lone team Sporting KC will face three times during the regular season.
The first meeting, a 1-1 draw on May 20 in Minneapolis, saw Quintero and Khiry Shelton trade first-half goals. The most recent tilt saw Vermes’ side dominate from start to finish in a 4-1 victory at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting KC has outshot Minnesota 49-13 across the first two meetings this season. The Loons are also looking for their first-ever result at Children’s Mercy Park, having suffered three losses at the stadium in all competitions with one goal scored and 11 allowed.
Joining Quintero on Minnesota’s injury report are three players who have missed most if not all of 2018. Midfielders Sam Cronin (concussion), Ethan Finlay (knee) and Kevin Molino (knee) are all out, with the latter two set to miss the rest of the season with ACL tears.
On the opposite sideline, Sporting KC will remain without four long-term absentees in Brad Evans (calf), Cristian Lobato (quad), Jimmy Medranda (knee) and Khiry Shelton (knee).
– Story from Sporting KC