Minnesota United FC are into their first Western Conference Final, shocking No. 1-seeded Sporting Kansas City with a 3-0 road win Thursday night in the Conference Semifinal stage of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Emanuel “Bebelo” Reynoso had three assists, twice setting up Kevin Molino for first-half strikes before also whipping in a corner kick that Bakaye Dibassy headed home to cap a 12-minute blitz in the opening 45 minutes. Dayne St. Clair made several key saves early on, allowing the Loons to silence the Children's Mercy Park crowd shortly thereafter.
Molino made it 1-0 in the 27th minute after being played through by Reynoso, beating the Sporting backline with combination play before he calmly tucked past goalkeeper Tim Melia.
The quality of Molino and Reynoso then surfaced when Minnesota opened a 2-0 lead in the 35th minute. The former Boca Juniors midfielder clipped a left-footed pass to the Trinidad and Tobago international, who volleyed home a right-footed shot after tracking the pass over his shoulder and toeing it inside the far post.
Just four minutes later, Dibassy powerfully headed home an in-swinging corner kick from Reynoso to seal the 3-0 win, beating Winston Reid to the cross in Sporting’s zonal marking scheme.
Sporting weren’t without chances, especially in the opening stages. Johnny Russell chipped St. Clair in the 2nd minute, only for center back Michael Boxall’s header to provide a goal-line clearance. St. Clair also pawed away a near-range header from Roberto Puncec in the 15th minute, keeping the ball by mere inches to deny Russell on a breakaway in the 14th minute.
- 27' – MIN – Kevin Molino | WATCH
- 35' – MIN – Kevin Molino | WATCH
- 39' – MIN – Bakaye Dibassy | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Minnesota are in their fourth year as an MLS club, and now they’re one game away from competing for the 2020 MLS Cup. The 2019 season included a Round One exit, but they reloaded and weathered a laundry list of injuries during this season like no other. As for Sporting, they had the pressure of being the No. 1 seed and couldn’t deliver. Star striker Alan Pulido wasn’t healthy after much anticipation, and one has to wonder how SKC would’ve fared with him.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Kevin Molino’s second goal was pure class. Whether it was the chipped pass over the top or Molino's peach of a finish, it gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead and put them in cruise control.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Emanuel “Bebelo” Reynoso became the first player in MLS history to record multiple three-assist playoff games. He’s done it in consecutive matches, including Minnesota’s 3-0 Round One win over the Colorado Rapids. Stretch it back even further and Reynoso has assisted on 10 of Minnesota’s last 12 goals, a stat that carries into the regular season.
- SKC: End of season
- MIN: Monday, Dec. 7 at Seattle Sounders (9:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada) | Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final