Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake | MLS Match Preview
SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs REAL SALT LAKE
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
April 5, 2014 (WEEK 5, MLS Game #42)
7:30 p.m. CT (KMCI-38; KTVA-ABC)
It’s a rematch of MLS Cup 2013 ahead on Saturday evening as Sporting Kansas City play host to Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park. When the teams last met four months ago, Sporting lifted the MLS Cup trophy following a 10-round penalty shootout. Both teams have gotten their new campaigns headed in the right direction, Sporting winners of two in a row following their 3-2 win at Colorado last weekend, while Real are undefeated in four games to start the year, coming off an impressive 3-0 home win vs. Toronto FC.
REFEREE: Armando Villarreal. AR1 (bench): Corey Parker; AR2 (opposite): Craig Lowry; 4th: Fotis Bazakos
MLS Career: 31 games; FC/gm: 23.8; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 12; pens: 10
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (16 meetings): Sporting 8 wins, 23 goals … Real 5 wins, 20 goals … Ties 3
AT KC (8 meetings): Sporting 5 wins, 12 goals … Real 1 win, 7 goals … Ties 2
LAST YEAR (MLS):
7/20: RSL 1, KC 2 (Findley 56 – Saad 67; Opara 97+)
- This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
- The teams of course met in MLS Cup 2014 last year, Sporting winning in a 10-round penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes. Álvaro Saborío gave RSL the lead in the 52nd minute, but Aurélien Collin pulled SKC level in the 76th minute; Collin then converted the cup-winning penalty.
- Sporting also won the lone league meeting between the teams a season ago, a 2-1 win July 20 at Rio Tinto Stadium
- RSL haven’t won in Kansas City since 2009; their goal scored in the MLS Cup Final was their first-ever in three appearances all-time at Sporting Park.
- Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. RSL: P7 W3 L3 D1 … Jeff Cassar vs. KC: first game
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City recorded their second consecutive win, getting a dramatic late winner for a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Sporting sit in second place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 4 games.
- Sporting broke through in the 50th minute. A long pass down the right side found Sal Zizzo, and he hit a cross-goal pass that left Graham Zusi with a simple finish at the back post.
- But seven minutes later, the Rapids got to the penalty spot again after Ike Opara grabbed the ball in the box, and once again, Vicente Sanchez converted from the spot.
- Then in the 78th minute, a tackle from Benny Feilhaber on right back Shane O’Neill earned yet another penalty kick from referee Jose Carlos Rivero. Sanchez once again finished from the spot, putting the Rapids in front
- But just 45 seconds later, Feilhaber made amends by volleying in a loose ball in the penalty area. Then in the 85th minute, Colorado defender Marvell Wynne was sent off for a second yellow after a foul on Zusi.
- The game-winner came two minutes into stoppage time, when substitute Dom Dwyer blasted home a close-range effort from a tight angle.
- Sporting manager Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that took a 1-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Park. Matt Besler came into central defense for Aurelien Collin, Oriol Rosell started in the midfield in place of Lawrence Olum, and Claudio Bieler came in up top in favor of Dom Dwyer.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Eric Kronberg - Kevin Ellis, Ike Opara (Aurelien Collin 61), Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell (Lawrence Olum 61), Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber - Sal Zizzo, Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 83), Graham Zusi.
- Sporting are now undefeated in three games in a row, with wins in the last two, and scored a season-high three goals in the victory in Colorado.
- “It showed a lot about our team, because basically we weren't on today,” manager Peter Vermes said. “I think what we did was that we kept pushing and kept trying. I don't think that we were firing on all cylinders today, but what I do think is that we kept playing and kept trying to push it.”
- Dom Dwyer scored his second goal in as many games, leading Sporting to a second consecutive win in dramatic fashion Saturday with his stoppage-time long-range bomb.
- After scoring his first career MLS goal last Aug. 3, Dwyer now has four goals in his last 14 league appearances, also scoring once in five postseason matches a year ago.
- The goal scored by Graham Zusi five minutes after the halftime restart was the earliest of the season for SKC – all five goals they have scored have come in the second half.
- “After a very poor first half I thought we came out, got an early first goal which helps, and thought we were a little unfortunate with a couple of their PKs,” said Zusi. “But credit to us for battling back and getting the second one and then the third as well. For us to play not as well as we would have liked to, and to get a win on the road in a tough place to play says a lot about a team.”
- Sporting KC conceded two penalty kicks in a game for the third time in club history in the Colorado match, and also gave up their first spot kick in more than a year (since March 9, 2013, vs. Toronto).
- “For a guy that's just getting his feet wet but he's been in the league for as long as he has, he's coming along. He has a lot of really good qualities,” Vermes said of goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.
- The MLS Cup rematch is another chapter in a budding rivalry over the past few years. “I hate them very much,” said Dwyer. Said RSL defender Nat Borchers: “I like the talk. I like when teams don't like each other. And we don't like Kansas City just as much as they don't like us.”
- “You're always going to have that game in the back of your mind,” said RSL midfielder Sebastian Velasquez. “And I think it's kind of like motivation to go into this game and know that you have this rivalry that has been built over the last couple of years. We want to beat them and show them we're the best team in the league.”
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake recorded their first victory of the season in impressive fashion, cruising to a 3-0 win against Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL are in a tie for second place in the Western Conference with 8 points from 4 matches.
- Real Salt Lake were in the lead after just 10 minutes. Referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot after Toronto defender Doneil Henry spun Saborio around and flung him to the turf. Saborio took his own penalty and easily sent TFC goalkeeper Julio Cesar the wrong way.
- Luis Gil then added a second in the 28th minute. Saborio dummied a ball that made its way to defender Chris Wingert, whose shot rebounded and fell at Gil's feet, and his effort took another deflection on its way to the back of the net.
- RSL completed the rout in the 55th minute. Javier Morales popped the ball up over the defenders and inside the area, where Saborio latched onto the pass and flicked it off the inside of the right post for the Real third.
- RSL head coach Jeff Cassar made one change to the team that reached a 1-1 result with the LA Galaxy at Rio Tinto Stadium. Olmes Garcia came into the side in place of Joao Plata.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Rich Balchan 58) - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil - Javier Morales (Luke Mulholland 89) - Olmes Garcia (Devon Sandoval 84), Alvaro Saborio
- Real Salt Lake have started a season undefeated in their first four games for the second time in club history, after 2011, when they won their first four games.
- “The best overall performance I think we’ve had. Offensively, I thought we were great with the ball and had a lot of good ideas and I thought our defensive shape was fantastic,” said RSL head coach Jeff Cassar. “We gave up some chances – not too many chances. I thought it was a really mature performance from our guys.”
- Alvaro Saborío has scored three goals in the last two games, netting twice in the victory against Toronto FC. For Saborío, it was his 13th career multiple-goal game in 101 league appearances; he’s now tied for 10th in MLS history.
- “He was fantastic. It started with his defense – he was playing really good defense, challenging for every ball in the air – and I thought it just brought him into the game, said Cassar. “Javier [Morales] gets him in dangerous spots – it gives our forwards the green light to get excited because they know they’ll be getting a quality ball.”
- With Joao Plata out injured, Olmes Garcia made his first start of the season, after coming on as a substitute for Plata the week before.
- Luis Gil played the full 90 minutes for a third consecutive match and chipped in with his first goal of the season. “We just kind of challenged him to make sure we were getting him around the ball. We wanted him to feel free to get into the attack more, and just be mindful of our shape in the back. We challenged Luis to get into the attack more tonight and he was fantastic,” Cassar said.
- Four RSL players – goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defenders Tony Beltran and midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Luis Gil – were called into the U.S. national team for the midweek friendly vs. Mexico, the most of any MLS team.
- “Obviously, we miss those guys, but it's time for other people to step up, and today was fantastic," Cassar said. "[It] kind of messes up your rhythm just a little bit, but they're coming back on Thursday. We'll get a nice session in, and we'll try to cover a few things in the session on Friday.”
- There will be an injury concern for the SKC match, after fullback Chris Wingert was forced from the field with a groin injury before the hour mark against Toronto FC. Wingert is not expected to be available this weekend.