After losing on the road last time out, Sporting Kansas City now return home to Children’s Mercy Park, where they will face Minnesota United, who are becoming a familiar foe for Peter Vermes’ Western Conference side (8.30pm ET Sunday).
Keep reading for our full MLS game preview with picks and Sporting Kansas City vs Minnesota predictions.
Defensive woes for hosts
Things haven’t exactly gone swimmingly for SKC of late. Sunday’s hosts come into this match having failed to win any of their last four regular season matches, two of which they’ve lost. As they’ve notched in each of those four games, scoring goals isn’t much of a problem, but keeping teams at bay is becoming a big issue. Kansas City are without a clean sheet not just in their last four but in their last six overall. Since the regular season resumed, they have shipped a worrying total of ten, surrendering an average of no less than two goals per 90 minutes. That needs to change, especially if they’ve got designs on finishing high up the table.
Loons on the up?
While SKC have struggled to get going of late, Minnesota have started to get their acts together. The Loons have now won two on the bounce and may just be on the up. After some heavy defeats, they turned things around somewhat swiftly to beat Real Salt Lake by four goals to nil, while they followed that victory up with a pleasing win over FC Dallas, who have been anything but easy to beat in recent times.
However, Minnesota’s recent upturn in fortunes has come at Allianz Field. Both of their recent wins were in front of a home crowd. On the road, the Loons, who have lost each of their last three travelling matches, remain out of form.
Seeing plenty of each other
There should be no surprises when the pair take to the pitch on Sunday evening, as they’ve seen plenty of each other in recent weeks. This will be the third match between them in the last two months. They first met at the MLS Is Back Tournament in July, where Minnesota won by two goals to one. A month later, SKC returned the favor, winning by two goals to one in regular-season action at Allianz Field. This will be the first time that the pair have faced off at Children’s Mercy Park since August 2019. On that occasion SKC won by a goal to nil. In fact, Kansas have an excellent home record against Minnesota, winning each of their last five home games against The Loons.
What do the underlying numbers tell us?
A quick glance at the figures shows both SKC and Minnesota United have conceded no shortage of scoring chances since the return of the regular season. The hosts are averaging 1.76 ‘expected goals against’ per 90 minutes, which essentially tells us that, on average, they have conceded the chances to ship 1.76 goals per game. Similarly, Sporting Kansas City have surrendered an average of 1.62 expected goals per 90 minutes since the MLS Is Back Tournament finished. That means that the pair are giving away a combined average of 3.38 expected goals per 90, so it is no wonder that clean sheets have generally eluded the pair.
If we turn our attentions away from expected goals and look at shots, both teams continue to show up poorly in terms of what they have given away, especially shots on target conceded. Minnesota have surrendered an average of 5.2 shots on target per 90 minutes since the restart of the regular campaign, while SKC have also given away an average of 5.2.
Where’s the money going?
In the early betting with the top-rated sportsbooks for American bettors, SKC are rather warm favorites. Given Minnesota’s away record and the overall record between the teams at this venue, that is unsurprising. Both teams have been poor defensively, so on that basis, odds of -143 on a home win seem slightly short, though the odds available on the away win (+333) aren’t amazingly appealing either.
Goals to arrive
The running theme for both SKC and Minnesota of late has been poor defending. SKC have gone six straight without a clean sheet, while the visitors are without an away clean sheet during the regular season. They have also conceded at least three in each of their last three travelling matches. What is more, the pair have only failed to score in one of their last ten matches combined. Such facts don’t exactly point towards a shortage of goals on Sunday evening, nor do the underlying figures discussed above.
Those looking to make this fixture pay could do much worse than ‘over 3 goals’. After all, at least four goals have been scored in five of Minnesota’s last seven matches, including in two of their last three on the road. So these are our SKC vs Minnesota predictions for this intriguing MLS matchup: