A strong attacking performance from Minnesota United FC kept their Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoff dreams alive with a 2-1 win over Western Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City at Allianz Field Sunday afternoon.

Goals from Minnesota's Argentine duo of Emanuel Reynoso and Franco Fragapane fueled the all-important victory, meaning their battle to reach the postseason will go down to Decision Day on Nov. 7. With three points, the Loons climb all the way up from ninth to fifth in the West standings, though with all the teams below them having a game in hand.

In their third meeting this season, the Loons earned their first win against Sporting since knocking them out of the Audi 2020 MLS playoffs with a 3-0 win at Children's Mercy Park. The two sides are now 1-1-1 over the regular season, with a fourth meeting possibly arriving during the postseason.

Sporting opened the scoring in the eighth minute off a stunning set piece. A short corner kick was taken, with the ball sent to the back post instantly where Johnny Russell headed it toward a wide-open Khiry Shelton for the 1-0 lead.

In a story of set pieces, Minnesota responded 12 minutes later with a goal of their own. An initial corner kick from Reynoso failed, but after maintaining possession through captain Osvaldo Alonso, the Loons sent the ball back into the box where Robin Lod found Fragapane for the Argentine's fifth goal of the season.

Lod and Fragapane connected once again in the 38th minute with some interplay in the box before the Argentine found his compatriot Reynoso, who was taken down with referee Victor Rivas pointing to the spot. Reynoso stepped up and scored a cheeky Panenka penalty to give them a 2-1 lead.

Potential 2021 MVP candidate Daniel Salloi made a return to the pitch for Sporting in the 53rd minute after missing two matches due to injury, but the Hungarian international's inclusion wasn't enough to find an equalizing goal. A resilient Minnesota defense and a vintage midfield performance from Alonso countered any opportunities that went Sporting's way.

Goals

  • 8' - SKC - Khiry Shelton | WATCH
  • 20' - MIN - Franco Fragapane | WATCH
  • 39' - MIN - Emanuel Reynoso (PK) | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: This is undoubtedly Minnesota's biggest result of the season. In a sign of how tight the playoff battle is in the West, Minnesota could yet secure a home playoff game with a top-four berth or find themselves out of the top seven entirely when the final whistle blows on Decision Day. For Sporting, it's a tough road loss. Dropping points could ultimately see them lose out on the No. 1 overall seed in the West.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Emanuel Reynoso's Panenka penalty kick. The cheeky goal gave his side all the confidence they needed.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Franco Fragapane. MNUFC's winger opened the scoring and assisted Reynoso's initial penalty call. He threatened inside and outside the SKC box.

Next Up

  • MIN: Sunday, November 7 at LA Galaxy | 6 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
  • SKC: Wednesday, November 3 at Austin FC | 9 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)