Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 34
Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021 | 5 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, KS
English TV | Bally Sports KC, Bally Sports Midwest Plus
Streaming | BallySports.com, Bally Sports app
English Radio | ESPN 94.5 FM
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
MLS Decision Day is here as Sporting Kansas City (17-9-7, 58 points) welcomes rivals Real Salt Lake (13-14-6, 45 points) to Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday, Nov. 7 on the final day of the regular season. With postseason positions and seedings on the line for the 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, all six Western Conference matches will kick off at 5:25 p.m. CT.
Tickets for Sunday's showdown are available online at SeatGeek.com. Local band The Crossroad Sound will be playing on the Mazuma Plaza prior to kick off in addition to a postmatch performance in the Budweiser Brew House.
The match will air on Bally Sports KC, Bally Sports Midwest and will stream on the Bally Sports App and at BallySports.com. The match will be broadcast over the radio on ESPN 94.5 and in Spanish on 1340 LA Grande. There will be live updates throughout the match from @SKCMatchday on Twitter. Supporters can also access the Sporting KC mobile app for additional in-game updates and exclusive offers.
Both teams enter Sunday's match with major playoff implications and are coming off midweek losses. Sporting fell 3-1 on the road at Austin FC and Real Salt Lake also dropped a 3-1 decision at home to Portland Timbers. Sporting sits in second place in the West, one point behind Seattle, while eighth-place Real Salt Lake must take all three points to secure a postseason berth.
Sporting, already assured of not only a playoff berth but also a home playoff match, is now looking to secure a first-round bye in the postseason as the conference's No. 1 see and can also clinch a spot in the 2022 Concacaf Champions League with a top-two finish in the West.
Sunday will be the second time these two teams meet in the 2021 regular season with Real Salt Lake winning the previous meeting at home on May 1. Alan Pulido gave Sporting the lead with a goal in the 17th minute before Damir Kreilach equalized and Rubio Rubin bagged a second-half brace for Real Salt Lake.
Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes has his squad eyeing the top of the West for a second straight season and a third time in the past four years. Sunday’s match will be Sporting KC’s fifth in two weeks in a sprint to the finish line before a two-week international break prior to the start of the postseason. Vermes has had Sporting playing inspired soccer all year as the 2021 team has the third most points and goals in club history.
With 11 goals and three assists, including a goal or assist, in his last 10 appearances, club captain Johnny Russell comes into the final match of the season in a sensational run of form. The Scottish forward has set a career-high with 15 league goals. Russell ranks sixth in MLS in goal contributions with 23 (15 goals, eight assists), and his 15 goals are tied for sixth-best as well.
Joining Russell in the attack is fellow MLS MVP candidate Daniel Salloi, who reentered the Sporting starting XI on Wednesday after recovering from an ankle injury. The Sporting attack becomes that much more dangerous with Salloi in the squad as his 16 goals are tied for fourth in the league and just two back of Golden Boot leader Valentin Castellanos. The Sporting KC Academy product’s 24 goal contributions (16 goals, eight assists) are tied for third-best in MLS.
Gadi Kinda has also been a huge asset for Sporting KC, assisting on each of Sporting KC’s last four goals, while Andreu Fontas has anchored the backline for Sporting. The Spaniard leads MLS in touches (3071), passes (2725) and successful passes (2437) this season. Not only are those marks league highs, but they are also MLS single-season records in the Opta era (2010-present). Sporting KC left back Luis Martins ranks second in the league in touches (2539) and midfield maestro Ilie ranks second in passes (2149) and successful passes (1912). Goalkeeper Tim Melia (65 saves, seven clean sheets) is just one win away from his 100th career victory for Sporting across all competitions.
Led by interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni, Real Salt Lake need a win over Sporting Kansas City to continue their 2021 MLS campaign into the postseason. Two points below the playoff line, if RSL loses or draws on Sunday the club will miss out on the playoffs for a second straight season.
Real Salt Lake’s attack is led by Kreilach (15 goals, nine assists), who is tied with Russell on goals and Salloi on goal contributions. Kreilach is joined in the attack by fellow midfielder Albert Rusnak (11 goals, 11 assists), forwards Anderson Julio (eight goals, one assist) and Rubin (eight goals, five assists). Real Salt Lake homegrown players Justen Glad and Aaron Herrera hold down the defense while 20-year-old Homegrown goalkeeper David Ochoa (78 saves, four clean sheets) is in his first season as a full-time starter.