Real Salt Lake (2) at (2) Sporting Kansas City
July 12, 2023; Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, Kansas
Real Salt Lake (9-7-7, 34 points); Sporting Kansas City (6-10-8, 26 points)
Man of the Match: Chicho Arango had an immediate and lasting impact coming on as a second-half substitute in his second game with the Club, assisting on RSL’s first goal and injecting the attack with a much-needed energy to pull off a two-goal comeback in the final 45 minutes. Chicho recorded his first assist for the Claret-and-Cobalt in the 46th minute, sending a through ball behind the defense for Danny Musovski to tap home into the net. The ensuing 10 minutes included multiple shot attempts from Chicho from long range, each of them forcing above-average saves from the Kansas City goalkeeper. In just 114 minutes over the last two matches, Chicho has a goal, an assist, and four shots on target. He is the second player in RSL history, joining Rubio Rubín, to score or assist in each of his first two games with the Club.
Telling Stats: After trailing by two goals at the half, RSL came back after conceding the first goal of the game to get a result for the fifth time this season (3W 2D). Anderson Julio’s game-tying goal in the 72nd minute was his 12th career goal as a substitute and third in the last three games to be scored in the final 20 minutes. RSL hasn’t lost a game in any competition since May 31st, improving their unbeaten run to nine matches (eight in league play). On the road the Club has yet to lose a game since April 15th, improving their unbeaten run to 11 matches away from home. Over the last 20 matches across all comps, RSL is unbeaten in 18. Debutant Nelson Palacio became the 200th player to play for RSL and the 26th player to feature in a match this season for Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni. RSL is now 16-12-9 all-time against SKC; 5-7-6 on the road and 5-3-4 across all comps since 2014.
What You Missed: After Kansas City controlled the opening 20 minutes, things got dicey for the RSL backline when Alan Pulido jumped on an errant pass and was through on goal, but 18-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Beavers did not hesitate to leave his line and take the ball off the forward’s feet to nullify the threat. Moments later Bryan Oviedo let one rip from the top of the 18-yard-box, but the shot was denied by the woodwork and the score remained level. The first goal of the night came for Kansas City in the 30th minute when Dániel Sallói buried a volley from in front, assisted by a carefully weighted aerial pass from Johnny Russell. Just six minutes later Russell added his own name to the scorers’ sheet to double the hosts’ lead, pulling off a half-turn inside the box to create space from his defender and rocket a shot past Beavers. Coming out of the halftime break trailing by two, RSL took just seconds to pull a goal back as second-half substitutes Pablo Ruiz and Chicho Arango connected in the midfield before Chicho laid off a pass for Danny Musovski to run onto and send to the back of the net. Re-energized by the half-time changes, RSL rifled off three shots in the following minutes, calling on SKC ‘keeper Kendall McIntosh to make multiple diving saves to preserve his team’s lead. In the 63rd minute SKC had a glaring opportunity to add back to the one-goal lead, but the chance was killed off when second-half substitute Diego Luna executed a perfectly-time sliding tackle just feet away from his own goalline. Finally in the 72nd minute, supersub Anderson Julio forced a turnover on Kansas City’s backline to take possession and walk into the box, slotting a shot home to pull RSL even. Julio nearly scored the game winner in the 89th, running free on goal all alone with a shot from close range, firing off a shot which was stopped by a kick save from McIntosh. SKC had their own game-winning chance in stoppage time via a cross in the box, but Beavers shuffled across the goalline and positioned himself to make a chest save to deny a header attempt. The final whistle blew before either team could get another shot on goal and the match ended 2-2.
What’s Next?: Real Salt Lake return to ‘The Fortress’ to take on Eastern Conference opponents Red Bull New York this Saturday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. MT for the final MLS contest of the month before beginning the newly-minted Leagues Cup a week later.