Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City
2017 MLS Regular Season
Rio Tinto Stadium – Sandy, Utah
Saturday, July 22 – 10 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Eighth-place RSL’s season has been disrupted by injury, international absences and a coaching change, but the Claret-and-Cobalt are starting to show signs of life. Salt Lake have won their last two, thumping the Galaxy 6-2 in Southern California in their last match before the Gold Cup break on July 4 before pounding the Timbers 4-1 in Portland on Wednesday night.
They’ll look to carry that momentum into Saturday’s match against SKC, who haven’t played an MLS match since drawing Philadelphia 1-1 at home on July 6 and will be without several key players this weekend due to international duty.
Real Salt Lake
The floodgates have officially opened for Real Salt Lake.
After scoring just 17 goals in their first 19 matches of the season, the RSL attack has exploded for 10 strikes in their last two games to move out of the West’s basement. Salt Lake have gotten production from all over their roster in the pair of impressive outings, but midseason addition Jefferson Savarino (two goals, one assist), Joao Plata (three goals) and Albert Rusnak (two goals, two assists) have led the way.
Captain Kyle Beckerman has chipped in with a pair of goals of his own, but it looks like he’ll be out for Saturday’s match after receiving a red card in Wednesday’s win. Not that head coach Mike Petke – who said the club plan on appealing Beckerman’s red – let that dampen his mood at all in Portland.
"I'm thrilled to death," Petke told reporters at Providence Park. "We did a lot of speaking about this game building up to it, how we wanted to play, what it means as far as the remaining games and the standings. We broke down the points for us, what we were looking to get moving into the second half of the season, and we put everything together."
- Suspended: Kyle Beckerman (red card)
- International duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: F Chad Barrett (knee), F Jordan Allen (knee), M Omar Holness (knee), F Ricardo Velazco (ankle), G Rick VanOekel (ankle); QUESTIONABLE: D Demar Phillips (hamstring), F Yura Movsisyan (hip), Sebastian Salcedo (calf)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): Nick Rimando – Danilo Acosta, David Horst, Justen Glad, Tony Beltran – Luke Mulholland, Sunday Stephen – Joao Plata, Albert Rusnak, Jefferson Savarino – Luis Silva
Notes: Since allowing eight goals in their first five MLS games at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2017 (1W-3D-1L), RSL have allowed just three goals in last five home matches (3W-1L). … Real Salt Lake have conceded 37 goals from inside the box, the second-most of any team in the league this season.
Sporting Kansas City
It hasn’t been a perfect season for Sporting Kansas City, but Peter Vermes’ squad still find themselves in a great position heading into the final few months of the year. SKC are currently atop the Western Conference and in fourth in the Supporters’ Shield race, and carry an eight-game unbeaten streak in all competitions into Saturday’s match in Salt Lake.
The attack is starting to wake up, but it’s been the defense that’s driven things for SKC. Center back Ike Opara and goalkeeper Tim Melia have both had outstanding years, captain Matt Besler has been his usual steady self in the middle of the back four and Graham Zusi’s transition to right back has been seamless, as SKC leads the league with just 14 goals conceded in 20 games.
Saturday’s match in Utah might have a bit of a different feel, however. He’s responding well to treatment, but Opara is likely out for the match due to a scary-looking concussion suffered in SKC’s Open Cup quarterfinal win against FC Dallas on July 11. Besler and Zusi, meanwhile, remain with the US national team at the Gold Cup.
Their absences will likely mean an extended runout for highly-touted 20-year-old center back Erik Palmer-Brown, who earned rave reviews for his performance in the USOC win against FCD.
“He was a monster,” Vermes said after the July 11 match. “I was very, very proud of him. And the progression that he has made as a player is tremendous. He’s playing very well.”
- Suspended: None
- International duty: D Matt Besler (USA), D Graham Zusi (USA)
- Injury Report: OUT: D Ike Opara (concussion)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3, left to right): Tim Melia – Seth Sinovic, Erik Palmer-Brown, Kevin Ellis, Saad Abdul-Salaam – Jimmy Medranda, Ilie Sanchez, Benny Feilhaber – Gerso, Dom Dwyer, Latif Blessing
Note: Sporting’s 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake on April 29, 2017, was their first win over Real since July 20, 2013. They had gone 5W-3D in the eight matches in-between, which includes a loss to Sporting KC in the 2013 MLS Cup Final in penalty kicks. … Sporting Kansas City notched two goals in their 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 24th, as many goals as they had scored in their previous six away matches (4L-2D).
Sporting hold the ultimate bragging rights in the series, winning MLS Cup 2013 over RSL after a 10-round penalty kick shootout following a 1-1 draw. The rivals are knotted up at 9-9 in the regular season after SKC thrashed Real 3-0 at Children’s Mercy Park earlier this year. There have been six regular season draws between the sides.
- Overall: Real Salt Lake 9 wins (29 goals) … Sporting 9 wins, 30 goals … Ties 6
- At Real Salt Lake: Real Salt Lake 6 wins (18 goals) … Sporting 3 wins (13 goals) … Ties 6
- Referee: Nima Saghafi
- Assistant Referees: Jason White, Apolinar Mariscal
- Fourth Official: Daniel Radford