Ilie Sanchez - Kevin Molino - eye ball

The COVID-19 break, among other things, allowed Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath to watch each game from the 2020 season’s early days.

From that process, one major takeaway was being impressed by Sporting Kansas City, the way-early Supporters’ Shield leaders with a 2-0 record and plus-six goal differential (one more than Minnesota). 

“I had plenty of time to watch everybody, and certainly I thought along with ourselves, the most impressive team was Sporting,” Heath said on the latest Behind the Loon podcast. “I thought their opening day performance away at Vancouver was outstanding, exceptional. We always know it’s going to be tough against them, we know what to expect, their shape, 4-3-3. They get their wide guys in, get the fullbacks nice and high and play with a lot of energy.”

Those comments frame the Group D opener at the MLS is Back Tournament, when the Western Conference leaders will clash July 12 (8 pm ET | ESPN, TSN) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

As Heath referred to, SKC started the year with a 3-1 win at the Whitecaps and then a 4-0 dispatch of the Houston Dynamo at home. Offseason signing Alan Pulido had two goals and one assist, and new midfielder Gadi Kinda provided the same stat line.

“I’ve got great admiration for them as a club and the coaching staff," Heath said. "I think they do a great job. They went and spent big in the offseason, probably the most they’ve ever spent, especially with the center forward Pulido. I think they paid $9 million for him, plus the salary. They’ve gone all-in.”

While Heath admired SKC, he added that their other Group D foes, Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids, pose serious challenges. He’s confident in his team’s chances, though, and said new striker Luis Amarilla looks like he’ll score every time he plays.

For more from Heath on the MLS is Back Tournament, check out the entire podcast here.