SANDY, Utah – Nat Borchers scored a signature header off a Kyle Beckerman free kick and Nick Rimando made five saves as Real Salt Lake won their fourth straight game with a physical 1-0 victory over visiting Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The game-winner was the third of the season for Borchers, who redirected Beckerman’s free kick in the 54th minute past helpless Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
Rimando and the RSL defense took over from there, and the Salt Lake goalkeeper was at his best in the 61st minute. He leapt to steer a long distance drive from Júlio César over the bar, keeping one of the top offenses in the league at bay and preserving his 12th shutout of the season.
Rimando was also up to the task in the 24th minute, when he snuffed out a close range chance from pesky and active Sporting Kansas City defender Aurélien Collin.
Nielsen was at his best in the 87th minute, when he made a breakaway save on Real Salt Lake’s Fabián Espíndola.
The win also pushed RSL (14-7-6, 48 pts.) into third place in the Western Conference standings after FC Dallas lost to New York earlier in the evening. Salt Lake also won their 10th home game of the season, tops in the league.
The loss was the first in three games for Sporting Kansas City (10-9-10, 40 pts.), who missed a chance to overtake the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They still trail the Columbus Crew by one point, and fell to 3-7-5 away from home this season.
Real Salt Lake return to action on Sept. 21 on the road against the New York Red Bulls, while Sporting Kansas City host the Philadelphia Union on Sept. 23.
RSL -- Nat Borchers 3 (Kyle Beckerman 9) 54
RSL -- Chris Schuler (caution; Reckless Tackle) 12
KC -- Aurelien Collin (caution; Reckless Tackle) 28
RSL -- Kyle Beckerman (caution; Dissent) 69
KC -- Graham Zusi (caution; Reckless Foul) 93+
Sporting KC -- Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Roger Espinoza (Davy Arnaud 81), Julio Cesar (Jeferson 86), Graham Zusi, Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, Omar Bravo (C.J. Sapong 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Peterson Joseph, Lawrence Olum, Soony Saad, Eric Kronberg.
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil (Ned Grabavoy 59), Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola (Jean Alexandre 89).
Substitutes Not Used: Arturo Alvarez, Paulo Araujo Jr., Blake Wagner, Collen Warner, Tim Melia.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Peter Manikowski
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Clear and 63 degrees