Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS Match Preview

REAL SALT LAKE vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
July 20, 2013 (WEEK 21, MLS Game #192) 8 p.m. MT (KUCW; KSMO)

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A mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash is ahead when MLS overall leader Real Salt Lake play host to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real consolidated their lead atop the league table and the Western Conference standings with an historic 3-0 win at FC Dallas, extending their long unbeaten streak. Sporting are riding a
five-game undefeated run of their own, coming off a 3-0 home win against Toronto FC last weekend to move back atop the Eastern Conference.

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REFEREE: Matthew Foerster. AR1 (bench): Kevin Duliba; AR2 (opposite): Baboucarr Jallow; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 15 games; FC/gm: 23.3; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 1; pens: 5

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: RSL: Lovel Palmer, Chris Wingert … KC: Aurelien Collin
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Yordany Alvarez … KC: Seth Sinovic
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: Tony Beltran (USA); Kyle Beckerman (USA), Nick Rimando (USA), Alvaro Saborio (CRC) … KC: Matt Besler (USA)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (15 meetings): Real 5 wins, 19 goals … Sporting 7 wins, 21 goals … Ties 3
AT SALT LAKE (7 meetings): Real 4 wins, 12 goals … Sporting 2 wins, 9 goals … Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS)
4/14: KC 1, RSL 0 (Collin 63)

  • The teams are meeting for the only time this season in league play.
  • The road team hasn’t won in the series since 2009, when each team won on the other’s home ground in their two meetings. Sporting took a 1-0 victory at home last year in the only meeting between the teams.
  • Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. KC: P11 W4 L5 D2 … Peter Vermes vs. RSL: P6 W2 L3 D1

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake extended their undefeated streak to eight games, gaining an historic win with a 3-0 defeat of FC Dallas on Saturday evening in Frisco. RSL lead the Western Conference with 37 points from 20 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Real took the lead in the 39th minute. An FC Dallas free kick just outside the RSL box was blocked, and RSL took off on the break. Abdoulie Mansally’s attempted pass was kicked by Zach Loyd, but ricocheted directly Javier Morales in stride. He then nutmegged Loyd with a quick shot from inside the area that seemed to surprise goalkeeper Raul Fernandez as it found the bottom right corner.
  • Real Salt Lake put the match away in the 79th minute. Mansally was again involved, sending in a cross that found a wide-open Ned Grabavoy alone in the middle of the box, and he powered a right-footed shot into the right upper corner of the net.
  • Substitute Olmes Garcia stretched it to 3-0 in the 90th minute. Luis Gil sent in a cross from the right that was whiffed on by Joao Plata, but it fell to Garcia to turn home on the half-volley with a right-footed finish.
  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis made three changes to the team that got a late equalizer for a 2-2 draw with Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium. Abdoulie Mansally came into the back four for the suspended Lovel Palmer, and Sebastian Velasquez and Luis Gil came into the team in place of Khari Stephenson and Joao Plata.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-2-3-1): Josh Saunders (Jeff Attinella 51) - Chris Wingert, Carlos Salcedo, Nat Borchers, Abdoulie Mansally - Ned Grabavoy, Yordany Alvarez - Sebastian Velasquez (Joao Plata 61), Javier Morales, Luis Gil - Robbie Findley (Olmes Garcia 70).

TEAM NEWS

  • Real Salt Lake extended their undefeated streak with an historic victory, winning for the first time ever in 22 games in Texas with the defeat of FC Dallas.
  • “It was an important result against a very good team in their stadium. Right now we’re in first place and they’re in second and that’s what’s important. It feels good. I don’t think I ever won a game here even when I was a player [for Real Salt Lake],” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis.
  • With Nick Rimando on duty with the U.S. national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Josh Saunders made his second consecutive league start, his third this season. But he suffered an injury to his left knee and had to come off early in the second half.
  • “[Jeff] Attinella made a couple of critical saves. He’s a player we have a lot of belief in and he came in and made an awesome contribution for us,” said Kreis. “He [Saunders] wanted to try but we knew he felt a little shaky and we found out pretty quickly. I really, really hope that Josh is going to be OK and we’re just looking at a couple of weeks.”
  • Attinella made his MLS debut, coming on for Saunders and playing the final 39 minutes. It was Attinella’s RSL debut; he spent 2011 and 2012 with the NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies.
  • “I’m still trying to wrap my head around what just happened,” Attinella said. “Josh will get evaluated and we’ll see how he feels during the course of the week. If he feels good to go I’m sure he’ll be back and do a great job. If my number’s called, I’m going to train hard and be ready.”
  • Javier Morales scored a goal and set up two others against FC Dallas. Morales has three goals and six assists over the last six games.
  • “He was incredible again. This is a player so many people had written off – including some people in our club actually – so for us to continue to believe in him and him to believe in himself … to make something happen this year, I just couldn’t be more pleased,” said Kreis. “He’s a terrific player but more than that he’s a terrific man and it just really warms my heart to see a guy like that do well.”
  • Although he needed abdominal surgery, Carlos Salcedo held it off to play vs. FC Dallas. He will miss the Sporting KC match after the procedure, but is expecting to miss just one match.
  • "I think it speaks a little bit to Carlos because he told me the next morning that he had actually had a lot of pain during the game in his abdomen," Kreis said. "He was probably already dealing with some of the initial signs of that. Then, he had an incredible amount of pain in the middle of the night Saturday night. It seems a little odd. It seems a little bit unlucky to be a center back on our team at the moment."

READ: No Rimando? No problem, as Jeff Attinella wins MLS Save of the Week for RSL

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City extended their unbeaten streak to five games, rolling to a 3-0 victory against Toronto FC on Saturday evening at Sporting Park. Sporting are in first place in the Eastern Conference with 33 points from 19 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting opened the lead in the 21st minute. Seth Sinovic sent in a short pass from the left flank, and Soony Saad settled it just outside the area and fired past Joe Bendik into the lower left corner.
  • Sporting, and Saad, made it 2-0 in the 51st minute. Graham Zusi's shot from distance was parried by goalkeeper Bendik, the ball rolling past Bieler to an onrushing Saad, who buried it from the edge of the 6-yard box.
  • Toronto FC went a man down in the 56th minute when defender Reggie Lambe was shown a straight red card after chopping down Saad in the open field.
  • Sporting went up 3-0 in the 63rd minute, on a sequence started by Saad's run and through ball to Kei Kamara. Kamara one-timed the ball to Benny Feilhaber, who pushed it out to Claudio Bieler with the right side of his foot for a tap-in from point-blank range.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made one change to the team that defeated the Chicago Fire 2-1 at Toyota Park. Soony Saad came into the team in place of Lawrence Olum.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Graham Zusi (Teal Bunbury 85), Benny Feilhaber - Kei Kamara, Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 71), Soony Saad (Jacob Peterson 81).

 

READ: Vermes laments another Matt Besler absence, but doesn't begrudge him USMNT spot

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting extended their undefeated streak to five games, winning back-to-back league games for the first time since winning three in a row March 30-April 17.
  • Soony Saad recorded his first career two-goal game in MLS – and scored his first league goals since his rookie season of 2011 –against Toronto FC.
  • “Soony's first goal showed exactly what he can do,” manager Peter Vermes said. “He can find his spot, and when he hits the ball he can overpower a goalkeeper, he hits it so hard. It was a great finish. The second goal was very opportunistic. We're always talking about getting runners in the box, and we had those when the opportunity fell to us. He was in the right place at the right time.”
  • Saad returned to the starting lineup after returning to the substitutes’ bench the week before, and his three league starts this season have come in the last four matches.
  • “He's been working and he's been hitting form,” Vermes said. “It's like I told him when he got his first opportunity to start: 'You don't have to go out today, and you're only going to get one of these opportunities. You're going to have the opportunities. We're going to be patient with those games. 'And credit to him, I think he's gotten better. And today, I think he just found the opportunities that he's accustomed to, and that's why he scored.”
  • After scoring his first goal with Sporting the week before, Benny Feilhaber recorded his first assist since April 27, his fourth of the season, in the final KC goal.
  • “My thought was to just work my butt off because that's what's expected from every midfielder on this team. We have to press, cover for each other, win tackles, and that's really the first thing in my head. And if I'm able to do that, hopefully my technical ability will be able to come out,” Feilhaber said. “That was my mentality and for myself it worked today and now the goal is to just remain consistent and improve on everything.”
  • Seth Sinovic recorded an assist for a second consecutive match, and now has a career-high three assists this season. All five of his career assists have come of the last two years in his four-year MLS career.
  • Claudio Bieler scored his ninth goal of the season and moved into fifth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
  • Sporting recorded their first shutout since a 1-0 blanking of Houston on May 8. SKC had seven shutouts over their first 12 league games of the season.
  • “I think we did a good job to create the clean sheet today,” said goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. “We forced their defense to hit the long balls all the time, which is good for [Matt] Besler and [Aurelien] Collin. I think we did a good job on the second balls as well, but overall, a great performance and I'm glad we got the shutout as well.”