Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 - 3 p.m. CT
Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kan.
English TV: ESPN, Watch ESPN
Spanish TV: UniMas
English Radio: Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio: La Gran D 1340 AM
MLS Playoff Guide
Major League Soccer's 2013 champion will be crowned at Sporting Park on Saturday when Sporting Kansas City hosts MLS Cup 2013 against Western Conference Champions Real Salt Lake. The season finale will be nationally televised on ESPN and UniMas with coverage starting at 3 p.m. CT.
MLS Cup will be played in Kansas City for the first time in the club's 18-year history and features two teams vying for their second league championship. Sporting Kansas City last won MLS Cup in 2000, while Real Salt Lake lifted the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy in 2009.
Sporting Kansas City earned their berth in tomorrow's final with victories over the New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo, while Real Salt Lake's road saw them eliminate two-time defending champions LA Galaxy before prevailing past the top-seeded Portland Timbers. The teams now meet on Saturday for the first time in postseason history.
MLS Cup 2013 also marks the first final in MLS history in which two former MLS players will meet as coaches. Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes, who helped lead the club to an MLS Cup title in 2000, has now led the second youngest roster in MLS to the team's first final since 2004 and only the team's third championship appearance all-time. Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis is the youngest coach to win MLS Cup and has led his team to the postseason in six straight seasons.
Sporting KC holds the advantage in the all-time series with an 8-5-3 record since Real Salt Lake began play in 2005, including a 5-1-2 record at home and 2-0-0 mark at Sporting Park. The lone meeting in 2013 came in July at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah with Real Salt Lake suffering their first loss in a 12-game span as Ike Opara scored in the seventh minute of stoppage time for Sporting KC's 2-1 win.
With the teams separated by two points in the final MLS regular season standings, those three points proved significant as Sporting KC earned the right to host MLS Cup 2013. Sporting KC has lost just once at home in 15 postseason matches since 1998 and
Sporting Kansas City's defensive unit of Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic have started all nine of the team's playoff matches the last three seasons and together lead Major League Soccer's top defensive team. Collin (24) and Besler (23) lead all MLS players in the postseason in interceptions, while Nielsen's 0.86 career postseason goals against average is fourth best in MLS history.
Collin has also contributed two goals in the playoffs to go along with goals from four different Sporting KC players (Seth Sinovic, Claudio Bieler, C.J. Sapong, Dom Dwyer). Dwyer, who scored four goals in the 2013 USL PRO Championship and has 26 goals across all competition, tallied the game and series-winning goal in the Eastern Conference Championship.
While Paulo Nagamura is the only Sporting KC player to have appeared in an MLS Cup previously, seven Real Salt Lake players return to MLS Cup from the 2009 side that prevailed in penalty kicks. U.S. Men's National Team players Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando have played every minute in the team's 18 all-time postseason matches and the veteran goalkeeper was also in net for D.C. United in the 2004 MLS Cup against the then-Wizards.
Forward Robbie Findley has scored in back-to-back playoff games to become the club's all-time postseason scoring leader with six goals, while Javier Morales ranks eighth on Major League Soccer's all-time playoff assists chart with nine. The Argentine playmaker's 21 chances created in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs are the most by a player in the postseason in the last three years.
Real Salt Lake are winners of their last three playoff games and their 1-0 win at Portland in the Western Conference Championship ended the team's seven-game road winless streak in the postseason dating back to 2009. The visitors boast the best offensive (1.75 goals per game) and defensive (0.69 goals against average) marks in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Saturday's MLS Cup match-up will feature Major League Soccer's top scoring team, Real Salt Lake, squaring up against the League's top defensive side in Sporting Kansas City. No team has scored more goals in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 than Real Salt Lake (64), while their counterparts have conceded the fewest goals (34) among all teams in MLS competition (including playoffs).
The match will go into the record books as the latest on the calendar in MLS history and will be Sporting Kansas City's 45th in all competition this season. The winner earns an automatic berth in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League while the runner-up would miss out on the international tournament under the current qualifying proposal, pending final approval by CONCACAF.
Saturday's final will unfold in front of a capacity crowd at Sporting Park, the 36th consecutive MLS sell out at the state-of-the-art venue. Opened in 2011, Sporting KC's home stadium becomes the first to host the MLS All-Star Game, U.S. Men's National Team and MLS Cup in the same year.
All fans are encouraged to arrive early with parking lots opening at 11 a.m. CT and soccer celebration available in Lot D from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. CT. Public transportation is available via Route 101 on The Metro with stops directly in front of the stadium every hour starting at 7:30 a.m. CT and the route's final pick up at 5:35 p.m. CT.
The Kansas City Cauldron will be taking over the Boulevard Members Club with pre-game food and drink specials available. Doors open at 12 p.m. CT to all Members Stand ticket holders, as well as the first 500 Sporting KC season ticket members and KC Cauldron members who have a ticket to the match. Following the game, all Sporting Kansas City ticket holders can access the Boulevard Members Club to wrap up the 2013 season at Sporting Park.
MLSSoccer.com will stream a live pre-game show starting at 2 p.m. CT and Sports Radio 810 WHB's coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. CT. Callum Williams and Jake Yadrich will be in the commentary booth for the live game broadcast, followed by The Final Whistle: Sporting KC Postgame Show. La Gran D 1340 AM will also carry the match locally for Spanish listeners.
Fans can follow the match online by visiting SportingKC.com/GameOn or on Twitter at @SKCGameday. Additionally, the Sporting Club Uphoria app is also available to download for Android and iOS users, including live stat functionality and in-stadium replays.