Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury vs. RSL

Recap: KC posts 2-0 win vs Real Salt Lake

MLS Game #22
Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 7:30 p.m. CT
English TV: KSMO-TV

Spanish TV: Time Warner Cable Ch. 5
Spanish Radio: La Gran D 1340 AM

LIVESTRONG Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: Sunny and 93 degrees
Attendance: 18,467 (sell-out) 
Video: Match Highlights

Score                                                       1         2           F
Sporting Kansas City (7-6-9, 30 pts) 2         0 2
Real Salt Lake (9-5-6, 33 pts) 0          0         0

Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen; Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Julio Cesar, Michael Harrington; Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Jeferson (Birahim Diop 79); Omar Bravo (Luke Sassano 94+), Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara (C.J. Sapong 74) 

Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Daneil Cyrus, Soony Saad, Milos Stojcev

Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran (Robbie Russell 68), Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert; Arturo Alvarez (Andy Williams 59), Kyle Beckerman, Collen Warren (Luis Gil 65), Will Johnson; Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio

Subs not used: Tim Melia, Chris Agorsor, Jean Alexandre, Rauwshan McKenzie

Stats:                           KC     RSL
Shots                           17       19
Shots on Goal               5           3         
Saves                             3           3         
Fouls                             14         12
Offside                         2           2
Corner Kicks                 2         8          

Misconduct Summary:
RSL – Nat Borchers (Caution; Reckless Foul) 47
KC – Roger Espinoza (Ejection; Serious Foul Play) 57
RSL – Fabian Espindola (Caution; Dissent) 89 

Scoring Summary:
KC – Roger Espinoza 1 (unassisted) 29
KC – Teal Bunbury 5 (unassisted) 34 

Sporting Kansas City earned a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday to move into third place in the Eastern Conference and extend the club’s unbeaten run to 14 matches, the longest in club history and tied for the third longest all-time in MLS.

Defender Roger Espinoza notched the game-winner, his first goal since his rookie season in 2008, and striker Teal Bunbury struck for the second-straight match as Sporting Kansas City stayed unbeaten at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park since it’s opening earlier this summer.

Sporting Kansas City controlled the opening half of play in front of a sold-out crowd, pressuring the Real Salt Lake goal from the opening kickoff as Omar Bravo pushed his header wide less than 30 seconds into the match off a cross from Michael Harrington.

Espinoza nearly netted an early goal in the eighth minute off a cross from Bravo, but his flick-header from inside the penalty area was held by Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who made three saves on the night.

Rimando did well to punch out Graham Zusi’s free kick from the endline in the 17th minute, but Seth Sinovic put the ball back into the penalty area with a first-time volley that narrowly eluded Matt Besler, unmarked from six yards out.

Bunbury then found himself the benefactor of a poor touch by Real Salt Lake defender Chris Schuler, but the Sporting KC striker’s shot was blocked as Schuler recovered at the last moment.

Real Salt Lake responded in the 24th minute on a well-timed run by Alvaro Saborio but his chip went well over the crossbar after being played behind the defense by midfielder Collen Warner.

Espinoza continued to assert himself in the attack two minutes later with an attempt from 25 yards out that sailed inches above the upper-90 from the left side. 

The Honduran National Teamer, who appeared in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, then scored on a superb solo effort in the 29th minute. After picking off a Real Salt Lake pass, Espinoza split two defenders and rifled a shot inside the near post for his second career goal.

Sporting Kansas City then doubled their lead in the 34th minute, capitalizing on a throw-in by Matt Besler from the right side. Striker Kei Kamara forced a strong save by Rimando with the initial header but Bunbury was there to hammer home the rebound from six yards out. 

Real Salt Lake, which had allowed only four road goals this season entering the match, picked up the tempo following halftime, with midfielder Will Johnson sending his shot from 25 yards out just above the crossbar in the 53rd minute.

The visitors then gained a man advantage three minutes later as Espinoza was shown an early exit for a tackle from behind on Kyle Beckerman. 

But it was Sporting Kansas City that nearly stretched their advantage in the 67th minute as the club’s two Designated Players combined to threaten Real Salt Lake. Jeferson played a pass out wide for Bravo, whose first-time service fell to the foot of Jeferson at the backpost but the Brazilian’s volley went wide of the post from close range.

Real Salt Lake then came to life for the match’s final 20 minutes, beginning with a corner kick from second-half substitute Andy Williams in the 70th minute. Saborio rose up to win the aerial batter and directed his header to the back post, but Sporting Kansas City defender Seth Sinovic was alert to clear the ball off the goalline.

Two minutes later, Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made a pair of saves to preserve the clean sheet, first on a shot by Saborio from distance then on a second RSL attempt by Beckerman.

The Real Salt Lake captain again tested Nielsen in the 76th minute on a free kick from 20 yards out but Nielsen did well to track the shot through traffic and make the vital save. 

Nielsen’s three stops earned Sporting Kansas City their fifth shutout of the season and first in an eight-game span, dating back to a 0-0 tie at Philadelphia on June 22nd.

Sporting Kansas City will continue the homestand on Saturday, August 6th when they host the Seattle Sounders FC at 7:30 p.m. CT at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Tickets are available at TicketMaster.com or at the LIVESTRONG Sporting Park box office.

Fast Facts:

Sporting Kansas City is now 7-6-9 and tied for third place in the Eastern Conference.

Sporting Kansas City is above .500 for the first time since the opening week of the 2011 MLS season.

Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in 14 straight MLS matches, the longest run in club history. The streak also matches the longest in MLS this season and is tied for the third-longest in League history.

Sporting Kansas City has not lost an MLS match at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park since it’s opening on June 9th and stand 4-0-4 at their state-of-the-art home stadium in MLS play.

Sporting Kansas City is one of only two teams in MLS without a home loss during the 2011 season, along with the LA Galaxy.

Sporting Kansas City has allowed six goals at home this season, tied for the fewest goals allowed by a home team in MLS this season.

Real Salt Lake has allowed 16 goals, the fewest of any MLS team, in 20 games this season.

Real Salt Lake has allowed only six goals in eight away games this season, the fewest road goals allowed in MLS.

Teal Bunbury’s goal in the 34th minute was the first allowed by Real Salt Lake between the 30-60 minute mark in an MLS match this season.

Bunbury now has five goals on the season, tied for second-most on Sporting Kansas City, and has also recorded goals in back-to-back matches for the second time this season.

Bunbury now has 10 goals in his MLS career, and matched his rookie season output with five goals this season.

Roger Espinoza’s goal in the 29th minute was his first since July 17, 2008 during his rookie season.

Espinoza’s red card in the 56th minute was the sixth of the season for Sporting Kansas City and third of Espinoza’s career.

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made three saves on Wednesday and now has 59 saves this season, tied for seventh most in MLS this season.

Nielsen recorded his third shutout of the 2011 season and 13th of his Sporting KC career on Wednesday.

The clean sheet was Sporting Kansas City’s first since a 0-0 draw at the Philadelphia Union on June 22, 2011.

Sporting Kansas City has allowed more than one goal on only one occasion in their past 15 MLS matches in a span that dates back to May.

Sporting Kansas City scored two goals in the first half on Wednesday for the fifth time this season.

Real Salt Lake allowed two goals in the first half for the third time this season on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s match was Sporting Kansas City’s third in a nine-game homestand, which is tied for the longest in MLS history along with the Chicago Fire in 2006.

Sporting Kansas City began the season with their first 10 MLS matches on the road, a new MLS record.

Sporting Kansas City is 6-4-3 all-time against Real Salt Lake and 4-1-2 at home in the series.

Sporting Kansas City defeated Real Salt Lake for the first time since May 16, 2009 in a 2-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Sporting Kansas City moved to 7-3-8 in all-Sporting blue uniforms this season in MLS play and is 5-0-6 when the temperature is above 75 degrees at kickoff.

Sporting Kansas City scored multiple goals for the ninth time in 22 games this season and now averages 1.41 goals per game, third highest in MLS.

Sporting Kansas City scored twice in the first half on Wednesday and has score 16 of its 31 goals before halftime for an average of 0.73 goals per game in the first half, third highest in MLS.

Sporting Kansas City is 6-1-1 when scoring the first goal in 2011.

Sporting Kansas City is 6-0-1 when leading at halftime this season.

Manager Peter Vermes made three changes on Wednesday from the starting line-up used in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution. Defender Michael Harrington and strikers Omar Bravo and Teal Bunbury replaced Daneil Cyrus, Chance Myers and C.J. Sapong.

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler played the full 90 minutes on Wednesday, surpassing 5,000 minutes played in his MLS career. He becomes the fifth current player to break the milestone in a Sporting KC uniform.

Sapong played 15 minutes on Wednesday and is the only Sporting Kansas City player to appear in all 22 MLS matches for the club this season.

Sporting Kansas City is 5-0-3 with defender Seth Sinovic in the starting lineup this season.

Sporting Kansas City hosted LIVESTRONG Licensing Partners Nike, Radio Shack, Oakley, American Century, Johnson Health Tech, Demand Media and FSR to Wednesday's game at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Wednesday that LIVESTRONG Sporting Park will host the U.S. Women’s National Team on September 17, 2011 in their first match since the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. 

Sporting Kansas City season ticket members will have access to an exclusive pre-sale beginning at 10:00 a.m. CT on Thursday.

KSMO-TV will air highlights and reaction from Saturday’s match on the station’s weekly 30-minute soccer show “Off the Pitch with Sporting Kansas City” on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. CT.

QUOTES

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

General thoughts on the match…
I thought if you compare it to our last couple of games here at home and all the games that we’ve played throughout the season there is one other game I can compare this to and this was probably the best 90 minute performance that we’ve played all year. 

It just showed the commitment from the guys right off the bat.  We started from where we left off from the last game in the way we were pushing.  I thought our defense was strong.  It was very difficult for them to break us down especially when we were at even strength with them.  They didn’t really have one chance from the first half. The guys recovered well and it’s great to get a shutout a clean sheet.  That is big time for the team. 

On the performance of Roger Espinoza…
Roger [Espinoza] was at a different level tonight.  Not just his goal but his pressing and anticipation on the ball.  I can’t tell you much about the red card because I really did not see it and I didn’t get a chance to see the replay even if there was one.  All and all very proud of the guys.  

Roger is aggressive.  He’s not a dirty guy.  That’s the one thing.  He’s not that.  He’s just an aggressive player.  He really did something that we talk about trying to win the ball high up the field.  I didn’t see the play so I can’t comment.  But the one thing I will say was that from the opening whistle his commitment to press the ball and cut out passing lanes was fantastic.  He didn’t give up on any play.  Even his goal, the way he stole the ball, the way he then cut inside.  The way he went to goal with determination.  It wasn’t just him.  Our allocation of players in that moment was very good and that was the reason why we were able to turn them over deep in their end.  But again our commitment was very strong. 

On recovering back into a playoff position…
The guys have really dug down deep to get us back to where we are right now. It’s a credit to them and their perseverance and work ethic game-in and game-out.  Training sessions, as much as we’ve had to travel up to this point, I’m extremely proud of them and we have another game this Saturday that we have to recover and get ready for.

On the support from the ownership group translating to success on the field…
A lot of it is credited to our owners for stepping up and doing what we do.  We have not only the guys who we have on our roster.  They are willing to invest the money in the team.  They are willing to invest the money in a stadium like this.  All of these things help.  Our training facility, all of that stuff.  It all adds to the puzzle.  That’s been huge for us and I think the players appreciate it.  I know any other teams that come in here they see it, I think they’re jealous. And they should be because when you come to a place like this, the people that are in charge, they care.  

I think all of that is helping and again I go back and say culture takes a long time to build, but the key is once you get it, that you continue to bring people in that adapt and adjust to your culture not the other way around.  I think what’s happened is we have a nucleus of guys now that we have built over the last couple of years.  They have to adapt and adjust to what the culture of this club is.  The culture is excellent.  Like Jimmy said they’re a team they care about each other they fight for each other they get it and the good thing is the policing isn’t coming from the coaches but its coming from the players and when that happens you’ve really grown a lot.  

Thoughts on the United States Women’s National Team coming to LIVESTRONG Sporting Park…
I think it’s great for them, coming into a facility like this.  I think that’s the nicest stadium they’ve ever played in.  I think it’s great for the city as well.  It just goes back to saying when you have a place like [LIVESTRONG Sporting Park] different teams get to come and obviously the women’s national team who had an unbelievable World Cup play their first game in the United States here.   It’s a credit to the ownership group and the stadium and everything the stadium has done to put us in that position.

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen

General thoughts on the match…
I think we played probably our best game this season over 90 minutes; very solid. In the first half I don’t think they had a shot on target.  When we got a man down we still played with big discipline and very aggressive and hard but fair. I think overall a credit to the whole team.  It was a tough performance by the team today.  

On being ready to play well from the start of tonight’s match…
We were all upset that we were giving away stupid things at the beginning of the game.  We were all ready. We talked about it after last game and we were all prepared today from the first whistle.  We stepped on the field as a team and we left the field as a team, just one guy less. 

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi

General thoughts on the match…
We took it to them, basically. We really controlled the flow of the game. We got those two goals in the first half and that was huge for us. That gave us room to kind of relax, and with the red card we started to play more defensively. So the two-goal lead was huge for us.

On the quick turnaround for Seattle on Saturday…
Well, we’re used to the quick turnaround. We’ve been playing Wednesdays and Saturdays for about the last month now. We just need to get our bodies healthy again, and just come out the way we did tonight. Seattle is a good team, and during the week we really need to focus on the way we play.”

On playing with confidence at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park…
I think that’s what we did tonight. Instead of worrying who was coming in here we just knew we were at home. This is the place where we’ve played the best.”

Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury

General thoughts on the match…
I feel like we did well. We’ve been stressing for the past two games to try to go out and get the first goal and start off with a better mentality. Tonight we did that and we got two goals in the first half, which is great. Then we had a red card in the second half, so for the last parts of the game we just had to defend. There were some great saves by Jimmy [Nielsen]. It was just a great night and we got away with a huge win. Now we just have to keep going.

On the quick turnaround and facing Seattle on Saturday…
Well the first thing is going to be recovering and getting ready to go on Saturday. Seattle is a great team, and we just have to come out there with the same mindset. We’ll come out with our style of play no matter what team we’re going up against.

Real Salt Lake Manager Jason Kreis

General thoughts on the match…
I thought Kansas City beat us mentally for most of the first half when they put us on our heels; they tried to press us on our half of the field. We made the unwise choice of continuing to pass out of that pressure and that led to us giving the ball away about 25 yards away and all of a sudden we gave up a goal, so we’re on our heels even more and then we gave up the second goal. These are two things we’ve told our team now for several years. If goals are going to come against us they are going to come against when we give away balls cheaply and when we’re not focused on defending dead balls.  

On failing to capitalize on the man advantage…
To be up a man for that many minutes, there’s not an excuse that we don’t come out of here with at least one goal. So we were lacking a bit of quality in the attacking third of the field that I thought we were missing last match as well.

On the team’s morale moving forward…
It better be real bad because my morale is real bad. We need guys right now to feel that pain because I honestly feel that we’re at a precipice for our season right now. We need a huge game on Saturday, a huge effort, we need these guys to pull together and give absolutely everything they have because to have three losses in a row would be monstrously bad. 

On LIVESTRONG Sporting Park…
Beautiful stadium. They’ve done a fantastic job here. I think that Kansas City should be proud of it, and I think the league should take some pride in it as well. I think all of us should feel good about where soccer is right now and where it’s going when we have stadiums like this. 

Real Salt Lake midfielder Arturo Alvarez

General thoughts on the match…
I take full responsibility for the first goal. I made a soft pass and we got punished for it. We’re a lot better than what we’ve shown in the last two games. The biggest thing is that we need to pick up a win against New York.

On the importance of the match against New York…
It’s a must-win game. They’ve kind of been struggling as well and it’s a great chance for us to get back on track. I think we’re going to get out of this and get those three points that we need at home.

On LIVESTRONG Sporting Park…
It’s great, good atmosphere and a beautiful stadium. I think KC are doing a good job right now, all the credit to them.

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando

On Sporting Kansas City’s attack…
They’re a great attacking team with a lot of weapons, and they play well at home. I thought they put us under the gun early and created a lot of chances. If you don’t keep the ball [Sporting KC] will punish you, and that’s exactly what they did in the first half.

On the first goal…
We turned the ball over and Espinoza cut two players and then had a one-on-one with me and had another player making a run. I had to play the shot and the cross, and he hit it hard near post and it went in.

On the second goal…
We’ve been preaching for a while now that we can’t give up stupid goals off throw-ins. I had a save and it fell right to Bunbury. It’s a tough one to take, but I thought we played a lot better in the second half.

On playing at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park…
I thought it was great, it was fantastic. I didn’t think I’d ever say that Kansas City fans were good, but today they were all jumping and shouting together and the stadium was pretty much full. It’s nice to have a stadium like this for a franchise that’s been here for a while and it’s good to have fans in the seats. It was a great atmosphere for them and you can tell that they played well with their fans behind them.

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman

Thoughts on the match…
We weren’t good enough. They played with a lot more energy especially in the first half and got a couple chances and scored.

On LIVESTRONG Sporting Park…
The stadium’s state of the art, it’s top notch. I’m really excited that the owners here put the extra money in and really did it up. It really is a treat for us soccer players.