Salt Lake tough enough to land knockout blow against SKC

SANDY, Utah – Perhaps it was no surprise that Real Salt Lake’s physical 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday practically slowed to a crawl at times, bogged down by a whopping 34 fouls and plenty of bad blood.

After all, the two teams have a bit of history. A preseason match between the two teams was called off early due to a melee, and the regular season match earlier this year saw Sporting KC’s Roger Espinoza sent off for a harsh challenge.

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But that didn’t stop RSL captain Kyle Beckerman from lamenting the obvious effect the game’s physicality had on the finished product for the sellout crowd of 19,888 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“Most boring game I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” Beckerman told reporters after the match. “What were there, like 100 fouls? I felt bad for the fans that came and spent their money. It’s a shame because there was no rhythm to the game, and there was no soccer playing – it was a bunch of free kicks. It just wasn’t fun.”

Ironically, it was one of those free kicks that decided the game. Beckerman’s delivery found defender Nat Borchers slipping in behind the SKC defense in the 54th minute, and the big center back was able to turn that into his third goal of the season. 

“It was almost like Kyle and I drew it up like playing basketball – like an inbounds play,” Borchers said. “I just made sure I curled my run. He hit the perfect ball. Jimmy Nielsen’s in no-man’s land. It’s a pretty easy goal.”

But the match’s chippy nature had its downside too for Beckerman, who picked up a yellow card in the 69th minute and will serve a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation when RSL travel to face New York on Wednesday.

“Yeah, I knew it, but I could use a rest,” said a seemingly resigned Beckerman. “It’s not much of a rest so I’ll just get ready for Saturday [against D.C. United].”

Borchers seemed to agree that his setup man could use a break, especially after another grinder against Sporting KC.

“He’s been playing Wednesday-Saturdays for the last two months,” Borchers said. “So it’s good to get him a rest. We’re going to need the reserves to step up on Wednesday.”