Match Recap

Recap: Sporting KC suffers 1-0 loss at first place Real Salt Lake

Sporting Kansas City (2-4-5, 11 points) suffered a 1-0 loss on the road at Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake (6-2-3, 18 points) on Saturday. Former MLS Newcomer of the Year Cristian Arango headed home his ninth goal of the season on a free kick from Brayan Vera in the 81st minute to extend RSL's unbeaten run to seven straight matches.

Continuing a three-game road trip, Manager Peter Vermes was without four key contributors — Logan Ndenbe (ACL), Dany Rosero (quad), Remi Walter (knee) and Nemanja Radoja (illness) — and made six changes to Sporting Kansas City’s starting lineup from last week’s away match in Minnesota as John Pulskamp and Marinos Tzionis each made their first appearances of the year on Saturday.

The opening 45 minutes ended in a scoreless stalemate despite both sides threatening throughout the first half. Real Salt Lake nearly grabbed an early lead from a corner kick in the second minute however Justen Glad’s header was directed narrowly wide of the target.

Johnny Russell, who returned to the XI after recovering from a hamstring injury that kept the Scottish winger out of the starting lineup for the past six matches, responded with a chance of his own in the 18th minute. The club captain dribbled dangerously into the penalty area and skipped past one defender before flashing a shot just beyond the far post.

Russell would come close again in the 34th minute on a Sporting KC counter attack. Daniel Salloi carried the ball forward on the left flank and did well to pick out Russell’s run down the opposite channel, but the veteran’s sliding shot carried over the crossbar.

Making his first MLS appearance since March 25, 2023, Pulskamp recorded two saves in the first half with the second coming moments before the intermission when the 23-year-old palmed away a well-struck shot taken by 21-year-old Andres Gomez from the corner of the penalty area.

Pulskamp would be called into action again less than 10 minutes into the second half and produced a superb foot save in the 54th minute to deny Gomez once more. The Colombian winger continued to assert himself in the 78th minute -- 10 minutes after Tim Leibold had come to the rescue with a goal-saving intervention to deflect a point-blank attempt from Diego Luna -- and was inches from opening the scoring if not for a phenomenal fingertip save from Pulskamp to push the shot into the post.

Real Salt Lake would ultimately break the deadlock in the 81st minute as Arango scored the game-winning goal with a header that looped beyond the reach of Pulskamp and settled into the back of the net despite the best efforts at a goalline clearance from Robert Voloder. Arango now has scored or assisted on 16 of his team's 18 goals this season and he leads all Western Conference players in both goals (9) and assists (7).

On the opposite end, Real Salt Lake - which leads the league with only nine goals conceded in the first 11 matches of the season -- held Sporting Kansas City without a shot on goal after the 30th minute.

Sporting Kansas City will now turn the team's attention to the U.S. Open Cup as the club travels to play Union Omaha at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Caniglia Field on the campus of University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Round of 32 match will be streamed live on and radio coverage will air locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB in English and La Grande 1340 AM in Spanish.

2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 11
America First Field | Sandy, Utah
Attendance: 20,001
Weather: 69 degrees and cloudy

Sporting Kansas City 0-1 Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City (2-4-5, 11 points)
Real Salt Lake (6-2-3, 21 points)

Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Jake Davis, Andreu Fontas, Robert Voloder, Tim Leibold; Memo Rodriguez, Marinos Tzionis (Felipe Hernandez 46'), Erik Thommy; Johnny Russell (Alenis Vargas 61'), Alan Pulido (Willy Agada 75'), Daniel Salloi (Khiry Shelton 88')

Subs Not Used: Ryan Schewe, Zorhan Bassong, Robert Castellanos, Kayden Pierre, Nemanja Radoja

Real Salt Lake: Zac MacMath; Andrew Brody, Justen Glad, Brayan Vera, Alexandros Katranis (Bode Hidalgo 59'); Emeka Eneli, Braian Ojeda, Andres Gomez (Maikel Chang 90+2'), Cristian Arango (C), Fidel Barajas (Diego Luna 46'); Anderson Julio (Nelson Palacio 70')

Subs Not Used: Philip Quinton, Bertin Jacquesson, Tommy Silva, Gavin Beavers

Scoring Summary:
RSL - Cristian Arango 9 (Brayan Vera 1) 81'

Misconduct Summary:
RSL - Emeka Eneli (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 14'
RSL - Brayan Vera (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 47'
RSL - Cristian Arango (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 90'
SKC - Memo Rodriguez (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 90+4'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Tim Ford
Assistant Referee: Chris Wattam
Assistant Referee: Ben Pilgrim
Fourth Official: Ricardo Fierro
VAR: Chris Penso
AVAR: Joshua Patlak