Peter Vermes is eager for his “sluggish” Sporting Kansas City side to get the job done against Minnesota United by any means necessary.
Sporting required a 91st-minute goal from Daniel Salloi to rescue a 1-1 draw at Portland Timbers on Wednesday, making it just three wins in the club’s last seven MLS outings.
Seattle has regained control of top spot in the Western Conference standings and second-place Kansas City now faces a tricky test against playoff hopefuls Minnesota.
Following an intense run of matches, Vermes’ side will have a full week’s rest between Saturday’s trip to Allianz Field and a visit from the Colorado Rapids.
“We were sluggish against Portland,” Vermes said. “I thought we were slow. We weren’t sharp. In the second half, we brought a lot more. It’s not always going to be perfect. It’s not always going to be the way I think it should be or the way that I want to write it up. It’s just not always going to be that way.
“We’ve played a lot of games. We’re still trying to get healthy. We can get ourselves past this next game and give ourselves a little bit of a breather.”
Minnesota also played out a 1-1 draw in midweek, but that will be considered two points dropped for Adrian Heath given opponent San Jose played 70 minutes with 10 men.
The Loons have just one win in their last five games and head coach Heath was particularly disappointed with the performance against the Quakes.
“We were too vertical and didn’t make the man advantage count in that game,” he said. “When we did get into the final third, our quality was not good enough. I don’t know how many opportunities we had to put the ball in the box. Their keeper did not have enough work to do in the second half.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Minnesota United – Emanuel Reynoso
Reynoso created a game-high three chances last time out and assisted all three of Minnesota’s goals in last term’s playoff meeting with Sporting KC. After firing a blank in the loss to LA Galaxy and struggling to break down 10-man San Jose, United could do with so more of the Argentinian’s creativity on Saturday.
Sporting Kansas City – Daniel Salloi
The Hungarian striker’s low points from 2019 and 2020 are now a thing of the past after he scored his 12th goal of 2021 with a late equalizer against the Timbers. Salloi has been superb all season long, having also contributed six assists for his teammates, and will again be the key man if Sporting is to break down Minnesota.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first meeting between Minnesota United and Sporting Kansas City since the Loons knocked the West’s top seed out of last season’s playoffs with a 3–0 away win. That was the only time Minnesota United has scored three times in a match against Sporting.
– Minnesota’s 1–0 loss to the Galaxy at Allianz Field on August 14 ended a seven-match unbeaten run at home (W6 D1). The Loons have not been shut out in consecutive home matches since failing to score in three straight in July 2017 while playing at TCF Bank Field.
– Sporting KC has 38 points through 20 matches this season (W11 D5 L4), equaling the best mark at this stage of a season in club history (also W11 D5 L4 in 2000).
– Ten of the 12 outfield players used by Heath on Tuesday in San Jose attempted at least one of United’s 15 shots, while the two that did not attempt a shot, Jan Gregus and Ethan Finlay, set up at least one shot for a teammate in the match.
– Salloi has been involved in an MLS-high 18 goals this season (12 goals, six assists). Salloi has scored (three) or assisted (two) five of Sporting’s last six MLS goals.