KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Saturday, March 26, 2022) – Real Salt Lake (3-1-1, 10 points) fell 1-0 to Sporting Kansas City, ending the team’s season-opening four-game unbeaten streak. Despite injuries realized just prior to each half’s kickoff, RSL and KC remained scoreless until the game’s 81st minute, when KC Captain Jonny Russell provided what proved to be the game-winner.
In the moments before the match began, Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni was forced to make a late change to his lineup, starting rookie MF Jasper Löffelsend in place of the injured DF Johan Kappelhof, whose calf tightened up during pre-game warmups. This change saw the team move from three defenders in the back to the more traditional four-back setup.
In his first start of the season, FW Jonathan Menendez nearly opened his scoring account in the fifth minute, breaking through two defenders to go one-on-one with KC ‘keeper Tim Melia, but a kick-save kept it out of the net. In the 28th minute, it seemed as if Menendez would have another shot at goal, when FW Sergio Cordova played a short pass across the face of goal to an unmarked Menendez, but a defender intercepted the offering and cleared it out of bounds.
DF Erik Holt found himself looking at goal in the 42nd minute when Cordova headed it down into his path, but Melia once again was able to make the save. Despite continued pressure from both sides, the first half ended with Sporting KC having the majority of simple possession in first 45:00, and RSL having more dangerous opportunities with counter attacks, but the score still deadlocked at 0-0.
Coming back from the halftime break, Homegrown DF Jaziel Orozco made his professional and Claret-and-Cobalt debut as a second-half substitution for Holt, whose left foot plantar fasciitis forced another unexpected substitution.
Sporting Kansas City began to gain momentum in the second stanza, pushing for goal with several opportunities right out of the gate. In the 61st minute, RSL GK Zac MacMath was forced to make a point-blank save to preserve the scoreline. Menendez, yet again, almost gave RSL the lead in the 62nd minute, sprinting half the distance to goal, beating two defenders for a clear shot, the ball skipping just inches to the left of the post.
Sporting Kansas City broke the stalemate in the game’s 81st minute, when Johnny Russell skipped a left-footed shot out of MacMath’s reach to take the 1-0 lead. RSL continued to push towards goal but were unable to break through, despite the returns to action of 2021 stalwarts Damir Kreilach & Rubio Rubin, the match ending in favor of the home side.
UP NEXT: Real Salt Lake travels to Colorado Rapids next Saturday, April 2nd at 7:00 p.m. MT, where the team will look to begin its quest towards the Club’s 13th Rocky Mountain Cup title, keeping it in Utah for a second consecutive year.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
SKC: Johnny Russell - 81st minute: Russell won a ball from RSL MF Everton and cut across the top of the 18-yard-box where he attempted to lay off a pass to an oncoming teammate. Tate Schmitt intercepted the pass, but the ball bounced back to Russell who hit a left-footed shot into the back of the net.
- Nick Besler, Justen Glad, Zack Farnsworth, Aaron Herrera, David Ochoa and Bobby Wood were unavailable due to injury
- FW Rubio Rubin made his season debut, having missed the first four matches due to injury. Meanwhile, MF Damir Kreilach and DF Marcelo Silva returned to the pitch after missing time due to injuries.
- During warmups, a tightened calf saw MF Jasper Löffelsend replace DF Johan Kappelhof in the starting lineup, earning his first start for the Claret-and-Cobalt. Additionally, FW Sergio Cordova earned his first RSL start.
- DF Jaziel Orozco made his professional and Claret-and-Cobalt debut, coming on as a halftime substitute for DF Erik Holt. Orozco is the 21st Homegrown Player to earn professional minutes with RSL, and the 184th player in the Club’s 18-year history to see Major League Soccer action.
Match: Real Salt Lake at Sporting Kansas City
Date: March 26, 2022
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: Clear and 55
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 0 0 0
Sporting Kansas City 0 1 1
SKC: Johnny Russell 81’
Real Salt Lake (4-4-2): Zac MacMath, Andrew Brody, Erik Holt (Jaziel Orozco 46’), Marcelo Silva, Tate Schmitt; Jasper Löffelsend (Chris Garcia 88’), Pablo Ruiz, Scott Caldwell (Everton Luiz 62’), Maikel Chang (Rubio Rubin 78’); Sergio Cordova, Jonathan Menendez (Damir Kreilach 88’)
Subs not used: Tomas Gomez, Bode Davis
Sporting Kansas City (4-3-3): Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Nicolas Isimart-Mirin, Andreu Fontas, Ben Sweat; Felipe Hernandez (Cameron Duke 74’), Remi Walter, Roger Espinoza; Johnny Russell (Kortne Ford 85’), Nikola Vujnovic (Khiry Shelton 62’), Daniel Salloi
Subs not used: Kendall McIntosh, Kayden Pierre, Kaveh Rad, Ozzie Cisneros, Jake Davis, Robert Voloder
Stats Summary: RSL / SKC
Shots: 9 / 11
Shots on Goal: 2 / 4
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 14
RSL: Jasper Löffelsend (caution) 7’
RSL: Andrew Brody (caution) 27’
SKC: Roger Espinoza (caution) 40’
SKC: Ben Sweat (caution) 45+1’
SKC: Remi Walter (caution) 51’
SKC: Cameron Duke (caution) 90+2’
Referee: Joe Dickerson
Assistant Referees: Brian Dunn, Cameron Blanchard
4th Official: Victor Rivas
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez