Sunday’s Sporting Kansas City–Minnesota United match featured the stingiest defense against the most porous defense in MLS. It also featured one club with MLS Cup aspirations and an expansion club still trying to find its footing early into its inaugural MLS season.
None of that mattered in Minnesota United’s decisive 2-0 victory at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Sporting KC (5-2-3), playing its third match in nine days, made three substitutions to its normal starting lineup. Two of those changes — Kevin Ellis and Igor Juliao — were to the right side of the defensive line.
The Loons (3-5-2) exploited that right side for both first-half goals against a Sporting KC team that had allowed only three goals in its first nine matches.
Minnesota United midfielder Miguel Ibarra served up picturesque crosses on both goals. The first landed at the foot of Abu Danladi in the 22nd minute. It was Danladi’s first goal in his first career MLS start.
Christian Ramirez headed home Ibarra’s cross in the 39th minute to double the lead.
“Technically our movement wasn’t where it needed to be,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “The other team played with much more intensity than we did — that really ruled the day. We didn’t give anything away other than those two opportunities, but we weren’t intense in the game. I don’t think we ever put them under pressure. Even with all the balls bouncing around in their box, they never had to deal with us being penetrative.”
It marked the first time all season Sporting KC allowed multiple goals in a match.
Sporting KC dominated possession (66 percent), and corner kicks (10-2), but had little to show for it. It put more pressure on Minnesota goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the second half.
Shuttleworth suffered an apparent broken nose a collision with Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer in the 55th minute. But Shuttleworth and the Loon defense, which had allowed 25 goals heading into Sunday’s match, kept its second clean sheet of the season. Shuttleworth made seven saves.
Dwyer’s five-match scoring streak was snapped in the loss. More bad news came in the 71st minute, when he picked up a yellow card. Dwyer will miss the club’s next match Saturday at Orlando City due to card accumulation.
“I’m not sure how we’ll adjust to that yet,” Vermes said. “We’ll figure it out as we get into the week.”
Minnesota United 2, Sporting Kansas City 0
Sporting KC: none.
Minnesota United: 1. Abu Danladi (Miguel Ibarra, Ibson), 22nd minute. 2. Christian Ramirez (Ibarra, Danladi), 39th.
Shots on goal
Sporting KC: Igor Juliao (unsporting behavior), 17th. Dominic Dwyer (unsporting behavior), 72nd.
Minnesota United: Christian Ramirez (unsporting behavior), 51st. Francisco Calvo (unsporting behavior), 72nd.