SANDY, Utah — Much has been made of the differences between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City. The storyline heading into Saturday MLS Cup final has been that RSL is a team with more finesse, while SKC are more physical.
“They are a pretty physical team,” RSL midfielder Javier Morales told reporters on Tuesday. “They play one kind of soccer totally different from us.”
But coach Jason Kreis isn't altogether buying that.
“I don't know that I want to get too excited about what everybody's talking about — these opposing styles,” he told reporters. “I think Kansas City has some strengths that they play to. We have some strengths that we play to. I don't know that there's such a diametrically opposed way about them.”
Kreis said SKC are not unlike the last opponent his team matched up against.
“I think that the competitive spirit that they've brought to that group in a very quick time reminds me of what's happened this year in Portland,” he said.
Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers said he sees similarities between his previous and future opponents on the field.
“I think that Portland and Kansas City actually do have a lot of similarities,” Borchers said, pointing to that same competitiveness. “Kansas City is more physical. I think they are more of set-piece team for sure,” whereas Portland “maybe scored a lot more through the run of play.”
According to Kreis, the whole contrast-of-styles argument sells Kansas City's attack short.
“What they do with the ball in the attacking end of the field, once they get there — they have some very dynamic players,” Kreis said. “When Kansas City gets in the attacking half of the field, they string together passes as well. They score some pretty nice goals themselves.”
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Borchers said RSL's defenders face a stern test trying to shut SKC down.
“Obviously, Kansas City showed they can score goals with the creativity they have in the midfield with Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi in there,” Borchers said. “So we're going to have a big challenge to stop those guys.”
At the same time, the Claret-and-Cobalt aren't willing to concede that Sporting KC are more physical than they are.
“If we see our guys getting kicked around, we have to respond,” Borchers said. “We'd like to be the aggressors in that situation. We'd like to be the ones to be physical in the first place.”