KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Real Salt Lake lost MLS Cup 2013 in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday, falling 1-1 (7-6) to Sporting Kansas City after a penalty kick shootout at Sporting Park.
RSL FW Alvaro Saborio – making his return to the lineup after missing RSL’s Western Conference Championship series against Portland Timbers due to a hip flexor strain – put the Claret-and-Cobalt on top in the 52nd minute, firing a 20-yard half volley home past SKC GK Jimmy Nielsen. Sporting equalized in the 76th minute, when DF Aurelien Collin buried a FW Graham Zusi corner kick from 10 yards out.
Neither side scored in extra time, sending the match into a penalty kick shootout. RSL fell into a 2-0 hole in the shootout, but climbed all the way back, tying Sporting 3-3 after the first five shooters. The sides traded goals and misses until the 10th shooters, with Collin burying his penalty for SKC before RSL DF Lovel Palmer sent his spot kick off the crossbar to give SKC the shootout by a 7-6 margin.
As it so often has in championship matches, RSL hit the woodwork an agonizing three times in regulation on Saturday – the most any one time has hit the post/crossbar in MLS Cup history.
Buoyed by a raucous home crowd, Kansas City had the match’s first chance in the fourth minute. Sporting MF
Graham Zusi collected a ball on the left flank, hitting an early cross to MF Paulo Nagumara at the top-right corner of the box. Nagamura hit a first-time shot, slicing his volley wide of the mark from 15 yards.
Sporting KC Head Coach Peter Vermes was forced into his first substation in the seventh minute, inserting MF Lawrence Olum for injured MF Uri Rosell, who left with a sprained left ankle. The sub was the earliest change in MLS Cup history.
RSL GK Nick Rimando came up with a huge reaction stop in the 25th minute to keep Kansas City off the board. Zusi again started the opportunity, finding FW C.J. Sapong at the right post with a cross from the left flank. The big target forward headed on frame from the top-right of the six, forcing Rimando to parry around the post with a fine reaction stop.
Real Salt Lake went agonizingly close to going ahead in the 29th minute, when FW Robbie Findley hit the post. DF Chris Wingert created the chance, lobbing a cross in from the left flank. SKC GK Jimmy Nielsen failed to deal with the ball, popping his punch up in the air and toward the back post. The ball fell to Findley on the right edge of the six, where the speedy striker hit a first-time effort toward the open goal and off the right post.
The Claret-and-Cobalt had another good look in the 36th. MF Javier Morales chipped a free kick into the center of the box from 25 yards out, with Saborio getting on the end of it at the top of the six. Unfortunately for RSL, the Costa Rican international – who had his back to goal – couldn’t direct his header on frame, flicking it wide of the right post.
Kansas City had one last chance deep into first half stoppage time. DF Matt Besler ran onto a RSL clearance in the center of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s half, chipping a ball into the Real Salt Lake area. FW Dom Dwyer ran onto the chance, taking a touch to the right and attempting to chip Rimando from eight yards. RSL’s veteran ‘keeper came up with another tremendous stop, racing off his line to smartly block Dwyer’s effort.
Sporting nearly took the lead three minutes into the second half. Zusi swerved in a free kick from the left side, again finding Sapong, this time at the near post. The third-year forward collected the ball on the bounce at the left side of the six, squandering the opportunity by firing over the bar from four yards.
Saborio put Real Salt Lake ahead in the 52nd minute with a beautiful strike. Captain Kyle Beckerman collected the ball in the center of SKC’s half, deftly chipping ahead to Saborio just outside the box. The target striker took an expert first touch, taking the ball down with his chest before rifling a 20-yard half volley past a sprawling Nielsen and inside the right post with the outside of his boot.
Beckerman nearly doubled RSL’s lead in the 62nd. The Claret-and-Cobalt captain collected a Robbie Findley pass in the center of the pitch, taking a touch to his right before hitting a dipping right-footer from 30 yards that bounced past Nielsen and caromed off the far post.
RSL hit the post again in the 73rd minute, this time through Morales. The play began with Findley breaking down the left side. Findley eventually cut in on his right foot, hitting a square ball behind the streaking Morales. RSL’s Argentine maestro dropped back to collect Findley’s pass, trapping the ball, taking a touch and brilliantly chipping a 23-yard shot over Nielsen and toward goal. The curling attempt danced toward the line, but agonizingly hit off the post and across the face of goal before Nielsen collected.
The two near-misses came back to haunt RSL in the 76th minute, when Collin equalized for Sporting. Graham Zusi had the assist, curling a corner in from the right side that Collin headed inside the far post from 10 yards out.
SKC FW Claudio Bieler let RSL off the hook with a big miss in the 79th minute. Kansas City DF Seth Sinovic cut a neat square ball to an unmarked Bieler at the spot, but the substitute striker couldn’t make it count, sending his left-footed effort well over the bar.
RSL MF Ned Grabavoy had a chance in the closing minutes, collecting a ball on the counter and firing over from the top of the box, left of center.
Grabavoy’s chance took the game into extra time. SKC had the first chance of the extra period, with Rimando again coming up huge to keep things deadlocked. Sporting DF Chance Myers whipped a ball in from the right wing, finding Zusi just inside the penalty spot. The U.S. international got the bottom of his boot to it, sending a shot on goal that Rimando miraculously tipped over the bar.
Real Salt Lake nearly had a tiebreaker in the 105th minute, when Saborio headed home a Findley cross before it was disallowed for Saborio being offside.
The second period of extra time passed without any real chances from either side, and the match moved into penalties. Real Salt Lake fell into a 2-0 hole in the shootout, but climbed all the way back, deadlocking Kansas City 3-3 after the fifth kick and trading blows with Sporting until the 10th shooter, with Collin slotting his spot kick home before Palmer’s reverberated off the crossbar to give SKC a 1-1 (7-6) MLS Cup victory. See below for full shootout results.
RSL will return to Utah on Sunday. The team will hold exit physicals and final media availability next week.
Shootout Results – RSL 1-1 (6-7) SKC
SKC – FW Claudio Bieler – Goal
RSL – FW Alvaro Saborio – Miss
SKC – MF Paulo Nagamura – Goal
RSL – MF Ned Grabavoy – Save
SKC – DF Matt Besler – Save
RSL – MF Kyle Beckerman – Goal
SKC – MF Benny Feilhaber – Goal
RSL – FW Joao Plata – Goal
SKC – FW Graham Zusi – Miss
RSL – MF Javier Morales – Goal
SKC – DF Seth Sinovic – Goal
RSL – DF Chris Schuler – Goal
SKC – FW C.J. Sapong – Goal
RSL – DF Tony Beltran – Goal
SKC – MF Lawrence Olum – Miss
RSL – MF Sebastian Velasquez – Save
SKC – DF Chance Myers – Goal
RSL – DF Nat Borchers – Goal
SKC – DF Aurelien Collin – Goal
RSL – DF Lovel Palmer – Miss
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 1-1 (6-7) SKC
- Tonight’s match was RSL’s second appearance in MLS Cup. RSL previously won MLS Cup 2009 against LA Galaxy in a penalty shootout in Seattle.
- Tonight’s match was the first playoff meeting between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City. Real Salt Lake has only won once before at Kansas City – a 1-0 win over the Wizards on Aug. 29, 2009.
- Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City met once this year in MLS regular season play, a 2-1 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 20. The Claret-and-Cobalt has a 5-8-3 all-time record in MLS regular season play against Kansas City.
- RSL FW Alvaro Saborio scored his fourth career playoff goal tonight in the 52nd minute. He ended the 2013 MLS regular season as the Claret-and-Cobalt’s leading scorer with12 goals. Saborio made a return to the starting lineup tonight after suffering a right hip flexor strain in the Western Conference Semifinal second leg against LA Galaxy at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Costa Rican international sat out the Western Conference Championship series against Portland Timbers due to the injury.
- RSL FW Robbie Findley continues to be Real Salt Lake’s all-time leading scorer in the postseason with six career playoff goals in 14 matches. Findley scored in back-to-back playoff games for the second time in his career – scoring in both legs of the Western Conference Championship against Portland Timbers. The last time Findley scored in consecutive postseason games was when he scored in each leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Columbus in Real’s MLS Cup-winning season of 2009.
- RSL DF Chris Wingert made his return to the starting lineup for the Claret-and-Cobalt after suffering a fractured rib and pneumothorax in the Western Conference Championship first leg at Rio Tinto stadium on Nov. 10. Wingert was subbed out in tonight’s MLS Cup match in the 72nd minute after re-injuring his rib.
- RSL rookie FW Devon Sandoval was missing from tonight’s roster to due to a fractured foot – an injury sustained during the Claret-and-Cobalt’s playoff campaign.
- With tonight’s full shifts, Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman and GK Nick Rimando have played all 1,830 minutes in RSL’s 19-game playoff history.
- Seven Real Salt Lake starters tonight were on the team for MLS Cup 2009, and six that started today started that day. Nick Rimando started between the posts in 2009, DF Nat Borchers and Wingert started in the back four, Findley started in attack and MF Kyle Beckerman and MF Javier Morales were in the midfield, though Morales’ day ended after just 22 minutes because of injury. DF Tony Beltran was an unused substitute in the 2009 final.
- Seven RSL players started all four matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs 2013 heading into MLS Cup: DF’s Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers and Chris Schuler, MF’s Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil and Javier Morales, and GK Nick Rimando. During this year’s playoffs, 15 different players started matches for RSL. Tonight’s particular starting lineup had not been used before by the Claret-and-Cobalt this year.
- For the first time in MLS Cup history, two teams outside the Top 10 media markets in the country (per designated market area) faced each other in the championship match. Kansas City is ranked No. 31 and Salt Lake City is No. 33
REAL SALT LAKE 1-1 (6–7) SPORTING KANSAS CITY
SATURDAY, DEC. 7, 2013
Goals by Period 1 2 F OT PKS
Real Salt Lake 0 1 1 0 6
Sporting Kansas City 0 1 1 0 7
RSL – Alvaro Saborio – 52’
SKC – Aurelien Collin – 76’
RSL – Chris WIngert (Yellow;Foul) – 24’
SKC – Aurelien Collin (Yellow; Foul) – 35’
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Yellow; Foul) – 44’
RSL – Kyle Beckerman (Yellow; Foul) – 100’
SKC – Benny Feilhaber (Yellow; Foul) – 104’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Chris Wingert (Lovel Palmer, 72’), Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran; Kyle Beckerman (C), Luis Gil (Sebastian Velasquez, 87’), Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy; Robbie Findley (Joao Plata, 112’), Alvaro Saborio
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella, Brandon McDonalad, Cole Grossman, Olmes Garcia
Sporting Kansas City (4-3-3): Jimmy Nielsen; Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers; Oriol Rosell (Lawrence Olum, 8’), Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber, C.J. Sapong, Graham Zusi; Dom Dwyer (Claudio Bieler, 72’)
Substitutes not used: Eric Kronberg, Federico Bessone, Ike Opara, Jacob Peterson, Teal Bunbury
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Paul Scott, Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Ismail Elfath
Weather: Clear and 20 degrees