Kevin Molino scored his third consecutive brace -- the second in the postseason -- as fourth-seeded Minnesota United defeated top-seeded Sporting Kansas City 3-0 in the Western Conference semifinals at Children's Mercy Park on Thursday.
Molino became the third player in MLS history to score a brace in consecutive postseason games. Emanuel Reynoso handed out three assists for the second straight match.
It was Minnesota's first-ever victory at Children's Mercy Park, after entering the match 0-5-0 all-time at the venue. Minnesota, which had never won a postseason match before a 3-0 victory last weekend against Colorado, advances to the conference final Monday in Seattle against the second-seeded Sounders.
Protecting a three-goal lead, Minnesota didn't appear too interested in attacking in the second half, except for the occasional counter. The Loons spent much of the half keeping SKC from mounting much of a challenge.
Sporting K.C. nearly scored in the second minute when Johnny Russell chipped it over keeper Dayne St. Clair. But it was cleared off the line by Michael Boxall.
Russell almost connected in the 14th minute as he pulled away from the defense, but this time St. Clair deflected it away. A minute later, St. Clair stoned Roberto Puncec at the goal.
St. Clair's save seemed to spark the Loons as they flipped the momentum. Minnesota took the lead in the 27th minute on Molino's third goal of this postseason. He took a perfect feed from Reynoso and raced into the box, where he slid it past SKC keeper Tim Melia. It was Reynoso's eighth assist in his last five matches.
Reynoso then connected with Molino for his second goal in the 35th minute. Molino slipped behind the defense and used a bicycle kick to redirect the shot past Melia for a 2-0 lead.
Reynoso then fed Bakaye Dibassy in the center of the box for a header to give Minnesota an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the 39th minute. Reynoso, who became the 12th player in MLS history with three assists in a postseason game in the last match against Colorado, duplicated the feat in the first half.
--Field Level Media