Go in-depth behind Sporting Kansas City's MLS Cup 2013 victory over Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park on Saturday with the match's fast facts.
- Sporting Kansas City defeated Real Salt Lake in penalty kicks to secure the MLS Cup championship.
- Sporting Park has hosted championship matches each of the last two years and Sporting Kansas City have prevailed in penalty kicks on both occasions.
- Saturday marked the first time in MLS history that two former MLS players met as coaches in MLS Cup.
- Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes is the first person to win MLS Cup as a player and a manager with the same team. Vermes helped the 2000 team hoist the trophy, anchoring the Sporting KC backline and earning Defender of the Year that season.
- Peter Nowak is the only other person to have won MLS Cup as a player and manager, winning the Cup in 1998 while playing for the Chicago Fire and then leading D.C. United to the title in 2004 as manager.
- Sporting KC is 9-5-3 all-time against Real Salt Lake and has lost at home only once in the series (2009).
- Saturday was the first postseason meeting between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City.
- Saturday marked the first time Real Salt Lake has scored at Sporting Park in three trips.
- Saturday's match (Dec. 7) was the latest in the year in MLS history.
- Saturday marked the third time that Sporting KC advanced to the MLS Cup final in team history (2000, 2004, 2013). Sporting KC has played the third most postseason games (42) among all teams in MLS history behind the Chicago Fire (43) and LA Galaxy (64).
- Since 1998, Sporting Kansas City has only one home playoff loss: a 2-0 defeat to the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference Championship in 2011. The team is 13-1-2 at home over that span.
- Sporting Kansas City has played 45 games in all competition this season (MLS, MLS Cup Playoffs, U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League).
- Sporting KC has lost only one match by more than one goal across 45 games in all competition.
- Sporting KC has held opponents to a goal or fewer in 31 of the team's 39 MLS matches this season.
- Sporting Kansas City got a result for the first time when trailing at the 75th minute in 2013 MLS competition (including playoffs). The team was 0-10-0 prior to MLS Cup when trailing in the 75th minute.
- Paulo Nagamura leads all Sporting KC players with 14 postseason appearances and is only player on the team's roster to have played in two MLS Cups (2005, 2013).
- Seth Sinovic has started and played every minute in each of the team's last 21 MLS matches, the longest active games played streak on the team. Sinovic leads all Sporting KC players with 3,703 minutes played in all competition this season.
- Six Sporting KC players have started all 10 of the team's playoff matches in the last three seasons: Jimmy Nielsen, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic and Graham Zusi.
- Dom Dwyer is the first player to play in the USL Pro Championship and the MLS Cup in the same season. He started and won both matches.
- Dom Dwyer led all MLS players with eight shots on goal in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Jimmy Nielsen's 0.84 goals against average in the postseason is fourth best in MLS history among goalkeepers with 300 minutes played.
- Aurelien Collin (36) and Matt Besler (25) lead all players in the postseason in interceptions.
- Oriol Rosell exited the match in the eighth minute with a sprained left ankle.
- Lawrence Olum replaced Rosell, marking the earliest substitution in MLS history during the postseason.
- Vermes led the second youngest roster in MLS to MLS Cup.
- Saturday marked the second time Real Salt Lake appeared in MLS Cup in team history (2009, 2013).
- Seven current members of Real Salt Lake were on the 2009 MLS Cup winning squad, with six in the starting lineup (Nick Rimando, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Robbie Findley, Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales).
- Sporting Kansas City conceded the first goal in the match on Saturday in the 52nd minute.
- Aurelien Collin equalized for Sporting KC in the 76th minute. Collin's goal was a header that converted Graham Zusi's corner kick.
- Zusi becomes Sporting KC's all-time leader with five postseason assists.
- Collin has scored three goals during the 2013 MLS Cup playoffs, most among any other player in Major League soccer this season.
- Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando have played every minute of all 19 playoff games in Real Salt Lake team history.
- Nick Rimando led MLS with two penalty kicks saved in the 2013 regular season. Rimando only made one save on Saturday during the penalty kick shootout.
- Saturday marks the first time MLS Cup was held in Kansas City. Sporting Park is the first stadium to host the MLS All-Star Game, U.S. Men's National Team and MLS Cup in the same year.
- Saturday's match was the 36th consecutive MLS sell out at Sporting Park dating back to 2012.
- Attendance on Saturday was 21,650, tying the venue record set in the Eastern Conference Championship.
- Real Salt Lake had the most penalty kick goals (6) among all MLS teams in the 2013 regular season, but missed four of the team's 10 penalty kicks in Saturday's shootout.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC led MLS with 214 successful corners into the penalty area in the regular season and Sporting KC also led MLS with a 29.94% accuracy rate on crosses/corners in the 2013 regular season. Sporting Kansas City's lone goal in MLS Cup 2013 came on a successful corner into the penalty area.
- Sporting KC led MLS with 450 chances created (incl. assists) in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC led MLS with 101 chances created from set play in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC leads MLS with 33 goal assists from set play in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 599 shots in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 4,737 duels and 2,395 duels won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 1,498 aerials and 826 aerials won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 840 tackles and 647 tackles won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 1,294 clearances (incl. punches) and 819 headed clearances in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- MLS Cup 2013 was C.J. Sapong's 100th game played in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Chance Myers celebrated his 26th birthday on Saturday.
- Real Salt Lake had no shots on goal in the first half on Saturday.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 946 interceptions in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC led MLS with 92 headed shots and 14 headed goals during the regular season. Sporting KC leads MLS with 41 headed shots on goal in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 584 fouls conceded and 508 fouls won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 73 cautions in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Aurelien Collin leads MLS with 15 cautions in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Saturday was the longest penalty kick shootout in MLS history requiring 10 shooters.
- Aurelien Collin's 347 clearances, 297 duels won, 258 headed clearances and 165 aerials won are most in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Aurelien Collin's 153 interceptions are most in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013. Oriol Rosell ranks second with 149.
- Graham Zusi's 154 corners in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 are most in MLS, including a league high 55 successful corners into the penalty area.
- His 99 successful crosses/corners in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 also lead the league.
- Graham Zusi leads MLS with 60 chances created from set play in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC had 56 percent of the possession on Saturday to Real Salt Lake's 44 percent.
- Sporting Kansas City was second in possession with 55.25% in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013, trailing only Real Salt Lake (55.26%).
- Since 2011, RSL (54.64%) and Sporting KC (53.08%) rank first and second in possession in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Sporting KC (21) and Real Salt Lake (17) led all playoff teams in headed shots in the postseason. No other team had more than 10.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC led MLS with 229 chances created from set play in the regular season. Real Salt Lake ranked second with 185.
- Since 2011, Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 183 cautions in MLS competition (including playoffs). Sporting KC trails with 182.
- Since 2011, Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City have had the two best defenses in Major League Soccer among teams that competed all three seasons. Sporting Kansas City (106) and Real Salt Lake (122) have allowed the fewest goals in MLS competition (including playoffs). Sporting KC (1,028) and Real Salt Lake (1,150) also had the fewest shots faced in the regular season.
- Sporting KC has won the most MLS matches (including playoffs) of all teams in 2013 with 19 victories.
- Sporting Kansas City lead all 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs teams with 98 shots in the postseason. Real Salt Lake finished in second with 67.
- Saturday marked the first time Kansas City had to take penalty kicks to determine a match winner during playoffs since 1996.
- Three Pearl Harbor survivors were honored on the field before the match.
- Saturday was the coldest day on record in MLS history at 20 degrees.
- Sporting Kansas City won their second MLS Cup, the club's first since 2000. It was their third appearance in the MLS championship game.
- Sporting Kansas City is now tied for the third most league titles among MLS teams behind LA Galaxy and D.C. United.
- MLS Cup was decided by a penalty shootout for a third time (also: 2006, 2009). Real Salt Lake are the only team to have been involved in two MLS Cup shootouts.
- At 10 rounds (20 penalty kicks), it was the longest penalty shootout in MLS Cup history, and the longest penalty shootout ever in any MLS match.
- MLS Cup went into extra time for an eighth time, the first time since 2010.
- Aurelien Collin was named the Volkswagen MLS Cup 2013 MVP. It was the second consecutive year a defender was named MLS Cup MVP (Omar Gonzalez, LA); they are the only two defenders to win the honor in the 18 MLS Cups.
- Vermes became the fifth former player to win MLS Cup as a head coach [also: Jason Kreis (2009); Dominic Kinnear (2006, '07); Peter Nowak (2004); Frank Yallop (2001, '03)].
- RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was in his fourth penalty shootout in an MLS game in his career. In penalty shootouts, 12 of 30 attempts have not scored (8 saved, 2 high, 1 wide, 1 crossbar).
- Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was in his first shootout in an MLS match. Sporting won the 2012 U.S. Open Cup in a penalty shootout vs. Seattle Sounders FC, who converted two of five penalties vs. Nielsen (2 high, 1 saved).
- Real Salt Lake hit the woodwork three times (Findley, 29', R post; Beckerman, 62', R post; Morales, 73', L post) - the most of any team ever in an MLS Cup Final.
- Real Salt Lake became the first team to lose both MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup final in the same season. RSL was the 11th team to play in both finals in the same year.
- MLS Cup was scoreless at halftime for the fifth time (previously: '02, '05, '06, '11).
- For the ninth time in 18 finals, and the sixth time in the last eight finals, the team that scored first did not win MLS Cup.
- Game time temperature was 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It was the coldest MLS Cup Final in history, and the coldest recorded temperature at kickoff of any game in MLS history.
For this week's Prep Talk, I spoke with ESPNFC.com's Jeff Carlisle.
What are your thoughts on Real Salt Lake and their run to MLS Cup?
I think the big reason why Salt Lake has made it this far has been the return of Chris Schuler. RSL always had talent, especially on the attacking end, but this season they were missing something in the back. I think his physicality, his presence, and his ability on set pieces has given the team more balance.
What are your thoughts on Sporting Kansas City and their run to MLS Cup?
SKC has been knocking on the door for a while now and finally broke through to the championship game. Now they have a chance to go all the way. A big difference has been Benny Feilhaber. Not only has he dished out some sublime assists, but you see him tracking back into his own penalty area to win the ball. That defensive attention is something that had been missing from his game, and speaks to his improvement.
What do you see as the key matchups/factors for Saturday's match?
I think the key match ups are in midfield. Will Benny Feilhaber be able to shake loose from Kyle Beckerman, and on the other end will Javier Morales be able to find the spaces, either centrally or out wide, to be able to influence the RSL attack. Also look for Robbie Findley's speed to stretch SKC's defense. That will open things up for Morales to operate.
What are you expecting to see from Saturday's match?
I think it will be a contest of wills in midfield. Can SKC disrupt RSL's possession game and dictate the temp? RSL will try to play their game as well. I think RSL has a smidgen more experience that will come in handy.
MLS Cup 2013 has been the talk of sports radio in Kansas City leading up to tomorrow's championship match at Sporting Park between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake. Sports Radio 810 WHB -- the team's official radio partner -- aired a two-hour special edition of The Sporting KC Show on Tuesday and will continue their extensive coverage today as The Program with Soren Petro goes live at the Boulevard Members Club from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. CT during Road to Brazil. Immediately afterward, The Program with Kevin Kietzman will air from 2-6 p.m. CT live at Johnny's Tavern in the KC Power & Light District leading up to MLS Cup Last Night Out featuring Portugal. The Man.
Check out the audio clips below from interviews throughout the week on local sports radio...
Peter Vermes on Between the Lines (Sports Radio 810 WHB)
Jimmy Nielsen on The Drive (610 Sport Radio)
Matt Besler on The Border Patrol (Sports Radio 810 WHB)
Seth Sinovic on Fescoe in the Morning (610 Sports Radio)
Adrian Healey on The Border Patrol (Sports Radio 810 WHB)
This is a wonderful time for Sporting Kansas City. I couldn't be happier for all the amazing people I get to work with every day on something so incredible. I'm so thankful for the commitment the Patterson's, Illig's, Maday's and Curran's have made towards making Kansas City the Soccer Capital of America when it was so far from that in 2006.
I really want to thank our guys and their incredible leader, Peter. This year has been such a unique challenge with all the ups and downs, all the games missed due to call-ups, the events leading up to and culminating in the All-Star Game, plus all the things that could have prevented the boys from doing exactly what they've done: taking us for a ride I doubt many will forget.
But let's get to it...You are the most amazing fans in the country. What you've done to transform this team, this sport, this community is nothing short of epic. It's the greatest fan turnaround in the history of sports. Someone disagree? If you can show me another example where crowds of 2,000 became 24-minute 22,000 person sell-outs, I'm all ears.
And that's just it...no matter how far we’ve come, how much we’ve achieved together, how much the rest of the League admires what you’ve become – I have to ask you for one more thing. Nobody has the capability to carry a team to the end like you can. It's going to be cold. It's going to be such a tight game. It's likely going to be uncomfortable at times. But I've had players on this team tell me they've never experienced the emotion they have when Sporting Park is in full voice; players that have played in some of the greatest stadia of the world. So this is your chance to finish what we all started with a championship for this City, for this Club, for all of us.
In 20 years, we all should be able to close our eyes and remember this Saturday afternoon - still feel the emotion, relive the energy, hear again the songs that will be sung and still take joy in the experience of this one match... SKC Nation: let’s leave it all out there.
See you at the end.....
Major League Soccer held a press conference at Three Points Club on Thursday featuring Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes, team captain Jimmy Nielsen and U.S. Men's National Team winger Graham Zusi in advance of Saturday's MLS Cup final.
Sporting Kansas City Manager, Peter Vermes
On the growth of soccer in Kansas City...
"A couple years back when we built the stadium, it won stadium of the year, of the world. And there’s no doubt it’s the nicest stadium. And again, I don’t say that with any disrespect to anyone else, but it is. A lot of people have come to our stadium, to see a game at our stadium, to see our stadium. The amazing part is that this is the 36th game in a row that we’re selling out. Those people aren’t coming back because they want to see the stadium again. The people are coming to watch our games because of these guys next to me. The way they play, the things they do, their commitment to the fan base. From that perspective they come because of great play, off the field contributions, and I think that’s why there’s such a closeness."
On hosting the MLS Cup in Kansas City...
"It’s a great reward for the consistent performance by our team over the course of the regular season and now having the chance to host the MLS Cup here in Kansas City. I think that’s the significance of this MLS Cup. Kansas City has never had it here before, and now we have the opportunity of hosting and more importantly participating at the same time. From that perspective, it’s tremendous. But I would agree with Jimmy [Nielsen], and even Graham [Zusi] from his statement earlier, that as much as it’s nice to be here, we still have unfinished business and one more game. That’s what truly is our focus and these guys have been tremendous from that point of view the last two weeks in preparing for Saturday."
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen
On playing Real Salt Lake in the final given what they’ve achieved in the last few years…
"Personally, I didn’t think that far ahead when we started the playoffs. The first hurdle was New England and then Houston. When I was watching Real Salt Lake and Portland, I didn’t care. I haven’t thought about it being awesome to play LA Galaxy or Portland. All I cared about is that Sporting KC are in the final."
On the exciting...
"Of course it’s a very exciting moment. But we have to keep it as normal as possible. Whatever we’ve done the whole year, to prepare ourselves for each game, week after week, has taken us to where we are today. It’s awesome that there’s so much attention on the MLS Cup. It’s just a signal to how soccer is growing in America. We have to keep our emotions calm, but we are super excited."
Sporting Kansas City midfielder, Graham Zusi
On the team's expectations at the start of the season..
"Before the season starts, you set goals as a team. We knew we had a group of guys that could make it to the final, and win it as well. So I think we knew before the season started, and this was certainly the goal from the beginning."
On Real Salt Lake as Saturday's opponent…
"Having come back from a deficit in New England, and we were extremely focused on Houston as well. It wasn’t until we were through that and able to watch that second leg of Salt Lake and Portland that those thoughts kind of creep in your head, but I’m the same way as Jimmy. It’s two quality teams and both would have made a good final. Salt Lake came out on top and I think it’s going to be a great match."
To get everyone prepared for Saturday's MLS Cup, I'll be taking an in-depth look at Real Salt Lake with some help from broadcaster Brian Dunseth. In part four of Scouting RSL, we look at the club's midfielders.
Javier Morales (nine goals, 13 assists) - A creative midfielder who is the key Real Salt Lake's attack
Kyle Beckerman (4 goals, 6 assists) - One of the most consistent defensive midfielders who will likely be matched up against Benny Feilhaber and/or Graham Zusi
"It's been similar (RSL's formation/style of play in midfield) but at the same time you know they lost Will Johnson, an All-Star and it was a big loss. They were forced to make some tough decisions because they got knocked out of Champions League and the financial ramifications and salary cap implications. What Will Johnson going to Portland did was it allowed Luis Gil to get a lot more minutes as well as Ned Grabavoy to not have to share as many minutes. I think Jason leaned on Ned in a way he didn't previously. I think the same can be said for Luis Gil. Luis' development has been phenomal this year. He's been so good and no one is talking about him being only 20 years old anymore. He's just very good two-way player. I think he's one of the best young players in this league and if he's on another team maybe he gets a little more shine but because he's on Real Salt Lake and he's got to share the spotlight with so many good players. I don't think people dismiss him but maybe they overlook how good of a player he is. Kyle Beckerman again has had another Best XI worthy year. He's been phenomal all year long. I think the same could be said for Javier Morales. I think he's been one of the best foreign players this year on both sides of the ball. He's got double digits in goals and assists in all competitions. He's just one of those unique players that can change the game in a split second. Despite his lack of size, strength, and stature, technically he's capable of doing what very very few players in this league are capable of doing. That's pretty much the solid four that Jason Kreis goes with (in midfield)."
- Kyle Beckerman leads MLS with 2068 passes (regular season & postseason)
- Javier Morales leads MLS with 118 chances created (regular season & posteason)
- Ned Grabavoy leads the RSL midfield with a 87.73% passing accuracy
- Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 16855 passes and 55.59% possession
Leading up MLS Cup 2013 at Sporting Park on December 7, we'll be counting down Sporting KC's Top 10 moments on the Quest for MLS Cup this season. Today, we look at No. 2 which features the goal that sent Sporting KC into the Eastern Conference Championship.
November 6, 2013 was one of the most dramatic and electric evenings in the history of Sporting Park. In the second half of overtime, Sporting KC were tied 3-3 on aggregate and needed one more goal to advance into the next round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Benny Feilhaber intercepted a Matt Reis throw, dribbled towards goal, and sent a perfectly placed pass to Claudio Bieler. The Argentine calmly redirected it into the back of goal as the Sporting Park crowd went crazy.
Here's No. 2 in our countdown, Bieler's overtime goal at Sporting Park on November 6.
Leading up MLS Cup 2013 at Sporting Park on December 7, we'll be counting down Sporting KC's Top 10 moments on the Quest for MLS Cup this season. Today, we look at No. 3 which features a game-winning goal by Ike Opara.
No one knew at the time that July 20 would be a preview of the 2013 MLS Cup. On that day, Sporting KC traveled to face Real Salt Lake in a battle of two teams at the top of their respective Conferences. Real Salt Lake took a 1-0 lead but Sporting KC equalized in the second half with a Soony Saad goal. The match appeared to be heading for a 1-1 draw but Ike Opara rose above the RSL's defenders to head a Graham Zusi corner kick into the back of the net. The win was one of Sporting KC's league best eight away wins in the 2013 MLS regular season.
Here's No. 3 in our countdown, Opara's stoppage time goal at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 20.
To get everyone prepared for Saturday's MLS Cup, I'll be taking an in-depth look at Real Salt Lake with some help from broadcaster Brian Dunseth. In our third part of Scouting RSL, we look at the club's goalkeepers.
Nick Rimando (82 saves, 14 wins, nine shutouts) - Runner-up for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and consistently one of the top goalkeepers in MLS each season.
"I think arguably he's (Rimando) in the top 5 goalkeepers in the history fo the league. I think every single year his positioning as gotten better. I think he's minimized his mistakes. No one ever talks about his size (5'10") like they did in the beginning of his career. He's won multiple MLS Cups. He's now cemented himself as the third goalkeeper for the U.S. Men's National Team. Year after year we always talk about him as one of two or three goalkeepers that are potentially up for Goalkeeper of the Year. He comes up with huge saves. He's a very good goalkeeper all around and he's a leader in the locker room."
- Nick Rimando leads MLS with a 73.95 save percentage
- Nick Rimando has allowed less than 40 goals in every season with Real Salt Lake (started at least 26 matches each year)
- Nick Rimando has at least 10 wins in six of seven season with Real Salt Lake
- Nick Rimando won the 2004 MLS Cup as goalkeeper for D.C. United (defeated Kansas City 3-2)
On Tuesday night, Calllum Williams, Andy Edwards, and Carter Augustine hosted a special two-hour edition of the Sporting KC Show in Sports Radio 810 WHB. The show featured several guests to preview Saturday's MLS Cup against Real Salt Lake.
In the opening hour, the guys discussed the latest Major League Soccer news and spoke with Sporting KC defender Seth Sinovic and Real Salt Lake broadcaster Brian Dunseth. Next, the discussion turned towards Saturday's match vs Real Salt Lake and were joined by former Kansas City manager Bob Gansler.
The full podcast of last night's show is available below.