Sporting Kansas City heads west this weekend to face off against long-time rivals Real Salt Lake at America First Field on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. CT and will be available to stream on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV in English and Spanish, while the match will also be available on the radio locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).
1. PLAYOFF MATHEMATICS
Sporting Kansas City enters this weekend’s monumental clash with Real Salt Lake at America First Field knowing that the club realistically must in both of their final two matches of the 2023 campaign to stand a chance of clinching a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Sporting KC will be eliminated from the playoff race on Saturday if…
- FC Dallas beat or tie San Jose, and
- Sporting KC lose to Real Salt Lake
- FC Dallas beat San Jose, and
- Austin FC beat LAFC, and
- Sporting KC tie Real Salt Lake
Currently in a three-way tie for 10th place along with Austin FC and Minnesota United, Sporting sits three points back of FC Dallas for the ninth and final playoff position with two matches remaining in the regular season.
Since the start of May, Sporting have gone 10-7-5 in MLS play, scoring 39 goals along the way after going 0-7-3 and scoring just three goals in its first 10 league matches through the end of April. In that span, Sporting rank third in the Western Conference with 35 points and second in the West in both wins (10) and goal differential (+6).
2. VISITING THE UTES
Sporting Kansas City remains the road this weekend as the team heads west to take on Real Salt Lake at America First Field on Saturday night. Sporting knows that a loss may condemn the club to a second straight season with no postseason soccer, while RSL has already clinched their berth and are battling for hosting priority.
The two sides have met once earlier in 2023, playing out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Children’s Mercy Park on July 12. Sporting raced into a 2-0 halftime lead courtesy of a pair of well-taken goals from Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell, but RSL fought back in the second period. Buoyed by some halftime substitutions, the visitors got goals from Cristian Arango and Anderson Julio to head back to Utah with a point.
Sporting last visited America First Field - formerly known as Rio Tinto Stadium - on July 17, 2022 and suffered a 3-0 defeat. In one of the team’s final matches before their dramatic late-season turnaround, Sporting dropped the encounter in Utah following goals from Sergio Cordova, Pablo Ruiz and Jefferson Savarino.
Sporting trails the all-time regular-season series with RSL 12-16-9 and have a 4-11-3 record on the road in Utah. Sporting have won just one of their last 10 regular-season visits to America First Field, coming with a 2-0 victory in the 2020 finale.
3. AGADA SCORES IN BACK-TO-BACK GAMES
Sporting Kansas City forward Willy Agada appeared off the bench for the closing stages of the club’s 4-1 loss to St. Louis last Saturday but made his mark by tallying a goal in the second consecutive match.
With only seconds left to play, Agada snuck behind his marker at the far post to head home Daniel Salloi’s cross and get Sporting on the board before the club headed back across Missouri to Kansas City.
Agada has now scored 11 MLS regular-season goals for Sporting since joining the club last summer - good for the fifth most in club history across a player’s first 25 regular-season appearances. The only players with more goals than Agada in their first 25 matches are Preki (15), Alan Pulido (13), Digital Takawira (12) and Miklos Molnar (12).
4. SALLOI REACHES SEVEN GOALS, SEVEN ASSISTS
Sporting Kansas City forward Daniel Salloi tallied his seventh assist of the campaign on Willy Agada’s late consolation goal in the loss to St. Louis last weekend, bringing the Sporting KC Academy product to seven goals and seven assists on the season.
Across all competitions, Salloi now has eight goals and eight assists this year, eclipsing 14 goal contributions for the third straight season. Salloi is now just the third player in club history to have three or more seasons with seven goals and seven assists in the regular season, joining Johnny Russell (2018, 2019 & 2021) and Preki (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002 & 2003).
Salloi has cemented himself as one of the top attackers in club history and he currently ranks fourth in club history with 45 goals and eighth with 30 assists in MLS regular-season action.
Across all competitions, Salloi is one of 13 players in club history to make over 200 appearances as he’s now tallied 56 goals and 33 assists in 208 matches while his 89 goal contributions rank eighth in club history.
5. RUSSELL SET TO RETURN FROM SUSPENSION
Sporting Kansas City will receive a boost to the squad this weekend when the team heads west to take on Real Salt Lake at America First Field, as captain Johnny Russell returns from a one-game suspension that saw him miss the loss to St. Louis last Saturday.
On Sept. 23, Russell slid in to challenge Houston’s Nelson Quinones on the sideline and saw his foot roll over the top of the ball before catching Quinones in the leg. After a throw-in was awarded on the field, VAR Daniel Radford signalled head referee Chris Penso over to the monitor and after a lengthy review, he sent Russell off.
Russell has tallied six goals and three assists across 26 appearances in all competitions this season.