MLS Playoffs Betting Odds & Pick: Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United (Thursday, Dec. 3)
David Berding/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Molino and Kei Kamara.
- Top-seeded Sporting KC takes on the fourth-seeded Minnesota United in a Western Conference semifinal matchup on Thursday night.
- While this is a home game for Sporting KC, Dillon Essma thinks Minnesota is a live dog and could advance to face the Seattle Sounders.
- Check out Essma's full betting preview for Sporting KC vs. Minnesota United below.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United
|Sporting Kansas City Odds||-150 [BET NOW]|
|Minnesota United Odds||+340 [BET NOW]|
|Draw||+320 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-190/+138) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET|
Rivals from the Midwest face off Thursday night as Sporting Kansas City welcomes Minnesota United to Children’s Mercy Park.
Kansas City is the No. 1 seed in the West, and unassuming MNUFC will try to play spoiler in what should be a very competitive semifinal. The winner will play Seattle in the Western Conference Finals.
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City had a successful season, earning first place in the Western Conference with 39 points. It flew a bit under the radar but had a good run to end the season, going unbeaten in five straight games.
From an xG perspective, the squad generated 1.74 xG and conceded 1.39 xGA. A +0.35 is a solid xG differential, but it’s not the best in the West. Kansas City clearly features quality players on the pitch and has attacking options that should scare most of its opponents. At the top of the list is Alan Pulido. The Mexican International has loads of talent and ability and will be back in the side for Peter Vermes. I do think SKC has vulnerabilities at the back that should be considered a weakness. So, for Vermes, it will be all about creating enough chances while not leaving his back line out to dry.
In Sporting KC’s first-round matchup, it advanced past San Jose in penalty kicks. While it’s a positive it advanced, I wouldn’t say it was a particularly impressive performance for a top seed. Kansas City tends to underwhelm as a favorite from time to time, and having to go to PKs as a -180 favorite was a familiar sighting for me. The team has plenty of quality pieces, so that game really should not have been that close.
With that said, the xG comparison was SKC at 2.8 and San Jose at 3.6. Offensively, this is a supremely talented side, but it’s one with major issues at the center back position. Seattle is the true No. 1 seed, and Sporting KC is far from invincible.
Minnesota was a slight favorite (+118) over Colorado Rapids in its first-round matchup last week. The game started out in competitive fashion, with Colorado missing some very solid chances. After that, the Loons took theirs and ended up winning, 3-0.
While I do think Minnesota played better and deserved the win, that’s an unfair box score to Colorado. The xG comparison was Minnesota at 2.5 and Colorado at 2.6. The Rapids were in the middle of a really impressive run of form, and I knew it wouldn’t be a cakewalk. MNUFC will need to tighten up defensively and be better in the midfield to control Kansas City and keep it from scoring at will. I do think Adrian Heath is a good tournament manager to have and that he will get the tactics right in this spot.
Minnesota should be fully healthy for this one, including having ever-important right back Romain Metanire ready to go. Emanuel Reynoso and Robin Lod will be the key players to watch for Minnesota. These two sides have faced off three times this season, with Minnesota winning one and losing two. All three matches were decided by one goal and usually are very competitive.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think the market tends to overvalue SKC and undervalue MNUFC. I have seen Sporting KC time and again fail to win games it should. Because of that, I think Minnesota has a chance to make this one interesting, and SKC should not take it lightly. I do have a 20-1 ticket on Minnesota as a value play. I see similar value as a dog against a Kansas City side that frequently doesn’t live up to the hype.
While this is a home game for Sporting KC, I think Minnesota is a live dog here. The Loons are now unbeaten in nine straight games and are managed by a gaffer who will utilize the right tactics in this spot.
Sporting KC consistently underperforms expectations — including last week — and I think it’s vulnerable in this matchup.
I will be backing Minnesota +1 (-139), as I see it losing by a maximum of one goal. Put a smaller amount on the Minnesota to Advance prop (+200). I also expect Heath to be a bit tactical here and would take the under 3 (-114).
Picks: Minnesota United +1 (-139) (up to -150) | Minnesota to Advance (+200) (smaller unit) | Under 3 (-114) (up to -120).