With three points, Sporting hold a one-point lead over second-place Seattle Sounders, who have two games in hand. The Loons, meanwhile, continue their slide and could find themselves out of the Audi MLS Cup Playoff places by the end of the night.
A 14th-minute strike from Khiry Shelton opened the scoring for Sporting, capitalizing on a rebound from an initial Daniel Salloi shot. The Hungarian struck from the edge of the box and Tyler Miller was there to make the save, but the Loons goalkeeper pushed the ball directly towards the head of Shelton, who nodded home. Salloi then doubled their lead in the 36th minute with a strike down the middle of the net and Johnny Russell added a third from the penalty spot in the 45th. Miller brought Shelton down inside the MNUFC box and after a Video Review, referee Robert Sibiga pointed to the spot.
Sporting found a fourth goal through midfielder Cameron Duke in the 52nd minute, with the 20-year-old homegrown scoring his first on home soil.
Through six attempts since joining MLS as an expansion club in 2017, the Loons are yet to win against Sporting on the road. Minnesota are winless through two meetings this season, with the "Nicest Rivalry in Sports" foes playing to a 0-0 draw at Allianz Field in August.
Sporting's dominant attacking performance left Minnesota with their jaws on the floor, finding goals with ease and finally letting up on the gas as the final whistle arrived. The Loons' best chance of the evening came in the opening minutes when winger Ethan Finlay's attempt from the edge of the box shattered off the woodwork.
- THE BIG PICTURE: This could be the statement win Sporting need to certify that they’re a top MLS Cup contender. They’re now atop the West, while the Loons continue to slide down the table. Minnesota have a quick turnaround, hosting the fourth-place Galaxy in a must-win match Saturday. Sporting get a 10-day break before they host the second-place Sounders in a highly-anticipated match.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Tyler Miller conceding a penalty in the 45th minute. The sequence seemed to be the final straw for any confidence Minnesota had of a second-half comeback.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Johnny Russell. The Scottish winger scored once and added two assists while playing an important role in driving Sporting forward.