When working to kill off what had started to feel like a curse, it’s best to strike early and often. Leave no doubt.
The blight was Minnesota United’s 0-7 record at Sporting Kansas City since 2014, a stretch with performances coach Adrian Heath described as “awful” and “hopeless.”
Instead on Thursday, Dec. 3, the Loons were impressive and inspiring with three first-half goals to earn a 3-0 win at Children’s Mercy Park -- and it came on the big stage of a MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference semifinal on national TV.
Before the club’s first MLS playoff win in the first round against Colorado Nov. 22, Heath shared they set a goal of winning four straight, which would mean raising the MLS Cup on Dec. 12.
The fourth-seeded Loons are halfway there. They will play in the West final against second-seed Seattle Sounders at 8:30 p.m. Monday.
While the losing streak in Kansas hung over the Loons’ head, Heath said this team was his best yet and in maybe their best-ever form, so the past be damned.
That held true as Minnesota extended its club-record unbeaten streak to 10 games since late September.
The Loons stunned K.C. with three goals over 12 first-half minutes. Red-hot midfielder Kevin Molino scored the first two and center back Bakaye Dibassy netted the third on a header off a corner kick.
Minnesota’s prized central attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso assisted on all three goals.
But United were lucky they weren’t down a few goals after the first 15 minutes. Chase Gasper got beat by Johnny Russell, who chipped the ball over United keeper Dayne St. Clair for what looked like an opening goal in the second minute. But defender Michael Boxall sprinted back to head the shot off the goal-line.
In the 14th, Russell got free for a breakaway and St. Clair came off his line to save the scoring chance. On an ensuing corner kick, St. Clair got his right hand on Roberto Puncec’s shot at the back post.
Leading up to Thursday, United prepared for the possibility of defending Kansas City’s star striker Alan Pulido, but he was not in the game-day lineup after coach Peter Vermes said Monday he would be available for selection.