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Ten-man RSL falls to set-piece happy Sporting KC side

Douglas C. Pizac-USA TODAY Sport

First things first, let's avoid talk about the referee, because while that poor showing played an important role in the outcome of the match, the impetus was still very much on us to perform.

The good: Early in the second half, Robbie Findley scored a scrappy header after Jimmy Nielsen handled a corner as poorly as a goalkeeper can, letting the ball slip through his hands. Findley's finish was quick and didn't require much in the way of creativity, but his reaction to the ball dropping right to him was superb.

From there, things could have been easy. But things went from acceptable to less so shortly after, when Chris Wingert was sent off for a slight tug on Soony Saad that resulted in his second yellow card of the match. His first came after he clattered into Kei Kamara within the first 30 seconds of the game — an odd decision from Wingert, certainly.

Sporting KC scored from the ensuing free kick to level the affair after a mad scramble in the box saw Soony Saad — the man who had just gone down a touch easily to have Wingert sent off — score with a rather unmarked volley in the box. In the scramble, Jeff Attinella made two fantastic saves but when the ball fell to an unmarked Saad (and honestly, it could have fallen to any of four unmarked players in the box there), there was no chance for a third.

The second goal came deep into stoppage time — in the seventh minute of the pre-estimated five, to be precise — and it was again a set play that saw RSL done in. Opara rose well on the corner, but with Aaron Maund impeding Lovel Palmer's (who was marking Opara) defending, Opara had no problem getting a header off to win the game for the visitors.

And so it was that Real Salt Lake conspired to throw away three points: Wingert's red card was damning, but the poor defending on set pieces — particularly late in the match — should be addressed. But perhaps it should all be tempered by one simple fact: Even with the loss, Real Salt Lake remains at the top of the table.