Sporting KC Vs Minnesota United: 3 things to watch for

Sporting KC, Minnesota United (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Sporting KC, Minnesota United (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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MLS, Sporting KC, Alan Pulido
MLS, Sporting KC, Alan Pulido (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

1. Uncertain Minnesota defense vs powerful SKC attack

Minnesota United will be without 2019 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara after it was announced that he stayed in Minnesota to continue to rehabilitate from injury. That means that the back four that guided the Loons to such a successful 2019 campaign will be forced to look upon a new face to anchor the backline.

Josh Aja looks set to replace Opara. While he is an experienced center-back after spending 2017 and 2018 with Orlando City and the Vancouver Whitecaps before moving to Chile’s Union Espanola in 2019, he is certainly a major question mark. Aja will partner Michael Boxall in front of Tyler Miller, who was signed by Minnesota in January.

The backline won’t have an easy test. Sporting KC impressed going forward in their opening matches in 2020. Sparked by new signings Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda, who combined for four of SKC’s seven goals, Vermes’ attack started to click. Accompanying Pulido and Kinda going forward are wingers Khiry Shelton and Johnny Russell with some good options off the bench in Gerso Fernandes, Daniel Salloi, and Erik Hurtado.

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The Sporting KC attack looked ready to fire, and with Opara gone, the Minnesota defense may not be able to withstand the pressure.