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Sporting KC aims to remain hot at home vs. Minnesota
Following a stretch of four road games in the last five contests, Sporting Kansas City returns to Children's Mercy Park on Saturday looking to extend a 15-match home unbeaten streak against Minnesota United FC.
Minnesota will be looking to notch its first road victory in franchise history.
Sporting Kansas City (6-4-4, 22 points) stands in second place in the Western Conference after falling to Colorado last weekend. The road has been unfriendly to Kansas City, as it owns a 1-4-3 ledger away from home -- including a 2-0 loss to Minnesota on May 7.
Minnesota (4-7-2, 14 points) is tied for ninth place with Real Salt Lake in the club's inaugural year in MLS. Minnesota is coming off a 1-0 win over Orlando City at TCF Bank Stadium. The Loons have yet to win a road contest, going 0-4-2 in their first six matches away from home.
Sporting Kansas City continues to be strong on both ends of the field, leading the league in goals allowed per match at 0.71.
The frustrating thing for manager Peter Vermes is not turning offensive opportunities to goals. Kansas City's 201 shots are just one below league-leading Real Salt Lake, but it is just 16th in goals with 16. There was no better example than the last game against Colorado, when Sporting Kansas City had 25 shots but couldn't get one in the net.
"I actually think we're coming off a very good performance, a disappointing one because of how well we played and we walked away with nothing," Vermes said. "But I think it was a fantastic game for us. When you play as well as we did on the road, it should give us an incredible amount of confidence as a club.
"We have to keep pushing and trying to come up solutions."
Both teams will have several players unavailable Saturday due to suspension, injury or international duty.
For Sporting Kansas City, Graham Zusi will be with the United States men's national team for World Cup qualifying and is set to miss his first match of the season. Roger Espinoza will serve a one-game red card suspension before joining the Honduras men's national team next week.
Defender Kevin Ellis (thigh) and striker Diego Rubio (ACL) are out injured, and forward Dom Dwyer remains day-to-day with knee inflammation. Dwyer has missed the last two matches.
For Minnesota, midfielder Sam Cronin was suspended one game by the MLS Disciplinary Committee on Tuesday for a serious foul play in the team's win over Orlando. Midfielder Johan Venegas (two goals, three assists) has joined Costa Rica for World Cup qualifying, while Abu Danladi (groin), Thomas de Villardi (Achilles) and Bernardo Anor (lower leg) will sit out because of injury.
"One door shuts and another one opens for some people," Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said of being short-handed. "(Sporting Kansas City is) very good at the way they play (4-3-3). It's going to be a difficult game for us."
Updated June 2, 2017