Minnesota United FC and Sporting Kansas City meet for the second time in just over a month as the pair clash in regular season action at Allianz Field (7.30pm ET, Friday). Will Minnesota do the double? Or will the visitors get their own back for the defeat suffered in the Florida heat.
Read on for USAbetting’s preview and Minnesota vs Sporting KC predictions with picks for this MLS game.
Top two clash
While neither side managed to reach the final game at the MLS is Back Tournament, what with SKC falling in the quarters and The Loons dropping out in the semis, this is a match between the current top two in the Western Conference. Sporting Kansas City sit top with 12 points, while Minnesota are hot on the heels of Friday’s opponents with 11.
SKC sitting pretty
As recent seasons have shown, Sporting Kansas City are no back number in MLS. They made the playoffs in 2017, before finishing top of the Western Conference in 2018. There is no shortage of quality at Children’s Mercy Park, which is why SKC currently find themselves sitting in first place in the Western Conference.
Possession, shots, chances, goals
Prior to the suspension of sporting action due to COVID-19, SKC came flying out of the stalls, winning each of their first two regular-season matches, beating Vancouver by three goals to one, as well as beating Houston 4-0. In Florida, while they did show inconsistencies at times, SKC continued to look strong, especially in the final third. Vermes’ men are excellent at dominating games in terms of possession, while they are no strangers to firing in plenty of shots, creating plenty of chances and scoring multiple goals.
If we combine the two matches played before the lockdown with those played in Florida, then SKC are averaging a mammoth 17 shots per 90 minutes. They are also averaging 5.85 shots on target per 90, as well as a very impressive 1.92 expected goals for. It is clear to see that dominating possession of the ball is working for Kansas City when it comes to creating shooting/goal-scoring opportunities.
While SKC are pretty set on making the running, playing on the front foot and generally dominating the game, Minnesota deploy a counter-attacking approach, which for the most part has worked tremendously well in 2020.
Prior to the four-month break in play, Minnesota beat both Portland and San Jose. They did so without having a majority share of possession, seeing just 43% of the ball against Portland, and only 39% against San Jose. Nothing much changed in Florida, where for the most part, The Loons sat back, soaked up pressure and hit teams on the break.
By adopting a more cautious, counter-attacking display, teams often come up short offensively, though Minnesota seem to have got the balance right, as they have been by no means poor when it comes to creating chances or scoring goals. In Florida alone, Adrian Heath’s men scored ten goals, while they averaged a pleasing 1.63 expected goals for. Overall, this term, they are averaging 1.71, as well as averaging 14.6 shots per 90, plus 5.9 shots on target per 90.
In recent times, this has been a fixture that Minnesota have performed well in. Not only have The Loons won each of the last two renewals, winning by two goals to nil, including when the pair met just five weeks ago, but they have also won three of the four meetings since the beginning of 2019. In those four fixtures, Minnesota have notched a pleasing eight goals, while Sporting Kansas City have netted just three.
Closely matched in the betting
They are closely matched in the Western Conference, and as we can see from above, in terms of results, shots and chance creation, there is not a great deal between the pair. It is no surprise to see that there is not much to separate them on the moneyline with the sports betting oddsmakers. Minnesota are available at +155, while Sporting Kansas City can be bet on at +169.
Minnesota vs SKC Predictions & Picks Verdict: Expect Goals
Those looking for an angle on this fixture should opt for over 3.5 goals. The fact that the pair adopt contrasting styles, should lend itself to an open game, one where both create chances. If we consider that they are creating an average of 3.55 expected goals per 90, goals are hard to shy away from. Moreover, a combined average of 31.6 shots per 90 doesn’t exactly point towards a low-scoring affair.
Not only have this pair shone offensively, but in recent matches, they have also given plenty away at the back. Last time out, SKC conceded three goals against Philadelphia, while Minnesota shipped three against Orlando. Add in that they have surrendered a total of 7.1 expected goals in their last four matches combined and betting on the goals to arrive in no small number at Allianz Field on Friday evening makes plenty of appeal. So the Minnesota vs SKC predictions for this preview are: