KANSAS CITY, KS - APRIL 14: Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen #1 of Sporting Kansas City makes a save during the Major League Soccer game against Real Salt Lake on April 14, 2012 at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Saturday night saw the two top teams early in the MLS season face off, it was every bit a battle as was expected, not a high scoring affair but a physical battle that saw the teams equal in almost every aspect, here is the match recap and more from the RSL Communications Team:
REAL SALT LAKE DOWNED IN TENSE 0-1 LOSS AT KANSAS CITY
GK Nick Rimando & RSL Defense Concede 11 Corners, Finally Breaking on Decider by Collin; Lone RSL Shot on Goal in 91+'
KANSAS CITY, KS (Saturday, April 14, 2012) - Real Salt Lake was unable to remain perfect on the road three games into the 2012 MLS campaign, falling 0-1 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park to Sporting Kansas City tonight in a battle between MLS Conference leaders.
With the three points, Sporting KC (6-0-0, 18 points, East #1) became just the second team in the League's 17-year history to take maximum points over the first sextet of games, joining the 1996 Los Angeles Galaxy.
Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake (5-2-0, 15 points, West #1) remains in the Western Conference's top spot, holding a two-point lead over the San Jose Earthquakes, next Saturday's opponent at Buck Shaw Stadium. RSL fans not making the Bay Area trip can catch the game at 8:30 p.m. MT on ABC4, live in full HD.
RSL GK Nick Rimando and the veteran backline of Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert - a group that has played more than 6,000 minutes together since 2008 - withstood a Sporting KC onslaught in the first half, one that produced nine corner kicks for the home side and kept RSL on its heels. The half culminated when SKC striker C.J. Sapong's apparent headed goal was disallowed by referee Kevin Stott, as Sapong was adjudged to have fouled Olave prior to the shot.
more after the jump:
Eighteen minutes into the second half, Kansas City struck through on a corner kick, ending Real Salt Lake's shutout streak at 268 minutes. Sporting MF Graham Zusitook the corner, and found the head of an open DF Aurelien Collin at the top of the six, resulting in the French defender's second goal of the year and Zusi's MLS-leading sixth assist on the season.
Real Salt Lake emerged as the winner in various indicators on the scoresheet that usually mean three points for RSL, such as possession (56-44% advantage), passing accuracy (74%), total passes (425-320) and duels won (52-48%), but much of the work was done inside its own half, a testament to the frantic, high pressure employed by Kansas City. RSL finally managed to snap Sporting KC's MLS-record 335-minute streak without allowing a shot on goal in the 91st minute, when DF Nat Borchers got free to redirect a free kick service on frame, only to see his header snagged by shuffling SKC ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes
- Real Salt Lake fell to 1-5-2 all-time in Kansas City, and 0-2-0 in visits to LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Tonight's loss marks only the second time in the last seven meetings between RSL and SKC that the Claret & Cobalt were unable to earn at least one point (May 2009 at Rio Tinto Stadium)
- RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis penciled in the same starting XI seen in last week's 2-0 home win over Colorado, only the fourth time in the last 73 games across all competitions that the Claret-and-Cobalt have done so - and the second time in 2012 (Kreis used the same starters March 10, 17 & 24).
- Veteran RSL GK Nick Rimando and the RSL defense extended its current shutout streak to 268 prior to Collin's game-winner goal, the streak placing 8th in Rimando's RSL annals and 7th overall in team history. The Claret & Cobalt's most staunch run of minutes without allowing a goal is 568, set back in August/September of 2010 over the course of 7 games.
- RSL has now played 54 MLS regular-season/playoff, CCL or Open Cup games without iconic talisman Javier Morales available as its playmaker, posting a 23-17-14 overall mark (only 7-13-5 away from home). Jason Kreis' team has gone 18-15-12 in MLS reg. season play, 0-0-1 Playoff, 3-0-0 in CONCACAF and 1-2-1 in Open Cup sans Javi. Since 2009, that record is 19-14-11, scoring 2+ goals in only 21 of those 44 games.
- Despite its defeat tonight, Real Salt Lake will have the chance to top its best-ever start through eight games with three points next weekend in San Jose. RSL began its last two regular season campaigns with victories at Buck Shaw Stadium, with last year's 1-0 win on a Kyle Beckerman tally kicking off the club's best opening run (5-1-2, 17 pts. after a scoreless draw at FC Dallas on 5/22/11).
- Tonight's affair kicked off a three-game road stretch for RSL, as the team engages with the afore mentioned San Jose Earthquakes (4-1-1, 13 points, West #2) next Saturday and travels to FC Dallas (3-2-1, 10 points, West #T-3) on April 25. Real Salt Lake returns to Rio Tinto Stadium for back-to-back home games against Eastern Conference opposition on Saturday, April 28 against Toronto FC and Saturday, May 5 against the New England Revolution. Kickoff for both matches is set for 7:00 p.m. MT; tickets can be purchased at www.RealSaltLake.com or by calling 801-727-2700.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY 1 : 0 REAL SALT LAKE
SATURDAY, APRIL 14, 2012
LIVESTRONG SPORTING PARK - KANSAS CITY, KS
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City 0 1 1
Real Salt Lake 0 0 0
SKC - Aurelien Collin (Graham Zusi) 63
RSL - Will Johnson (caution, Professional Foul) 52
SKC - Paulo Nagamura (caution, Reckless Foul) 76
RSL - Jonny Steele (caution, Reckless Foul) 78
Sporting Kansas City (4-3-3) - Jimmy Nielsen (c); Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic (Michael Harrington 89); Roger Espinoza, Julio Cesar (Paulo Nagamura 51), Graham Zusi; Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong, Bobby Convey (Jacob Peterson 82)
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2) - Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman (c); Sebastian Velasquez (Jonny Steele 64), Will Johnson, Luis Gil (Paulo Junior 76), Fabian Espindola, Álvaro Saborío
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Attendance: 19,422 (sellout)
Time of Game: 2:00
Weather: Rainy and 72 degrees
There you go all the facts and more.
OFF MY SOAPBOX