Sporting Kansas City suffered its first defeat of the 2016 MLS season on Saturday, falling 2-1 to Real Salt Lake at Children’s Mercy Park. Justen Glad and Luke Mulholland scored on either side of halftime for the visitors, and while Benny Feilhaber reduced Sporting KC’s deficit with a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time, Real Salt Lake held on for all three points.
Saturday’s result leaves Sporting Kansas City (3-1-0, 9 points) tied for second place in the Western Conference and one point ahead of Real Salt Lake (2-0-2, 8 points), who snapped a seven-game winless run in Kansas City across all competitions dating back to 2009.
Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes made three switches to a starting lineup that was unchanged through the first three games of 2016. Feilhaber, an MLS MVP candidate last year, earned his 2016 debut while Brad Davis logged his first start for the club. In defense, Kevin Ellis became the first Sporting KC Homegrown Player to reach 50 career regular season appearances, replacing captain Matt Besler who was sidelined Saturday with a concussion.
Real Salt Lake created the first chance of the match through former Kansas City forward Yura Movsisyan, who played Joao Plata into space in the fifth minute. The diminutive winger fired low, forcing Tim Melia into his first of six saves on the night.
Sporting KC fell behind in the 28th minute as Real Salt Lake broke a 445-minute regular season scoreless streak in Kansas City. Plata served a free kick into the penalty area where 19-year-old Justen Glad was on hand to head past Melia, giving RSL their first-ever regular season goal at Children’s Mercy Park in their fifth visit to the stadium.
The hosts responded with a flurry of chances just before the break. The first came courtesy of Davis, who chested down a clever long ball from Feilhaber in the 44th minute and flashed a dangerous cross into the six-yard area. Dom Dwyer raced onto the end of it, but his back-heeled effort was saved by Jeff Attinella.
Feilhaber continued orchestrating in first-half stoppage time, feeding Graham Zusi near the penalty spot. Multiple RSL defenders intervened as the ball deflected inches wide of the post. Dwyer went close again a minute later, snapping a header narrowly wide off Feilhaber’s cross.
Movsisyan nearly doubled Real Salt Lake’s advantage in the 57th minute, but his right-footed blast rattled the crossbar. At the other end, Chance Myers — making his 150th MLS appearance for Sporting KC — found Davis unmarked atop the box, but the veteran sent his shot high of the target.
Luke Mulholland bagged the game-winning goal in the 79th minute, capitalizing after Sporting Kansas City failed to clear a corner kick. Plata’s delivery was repelled only as far as Mulholland, who curled a 25-yard strike just inside Melia’s righthand post.
Vermes made an offensive substitution with 10 minutes remaining as forward Diego Rubio made his Sporting Kansas City debut. The 22-year-old Chilean — who was acquired last month as a Young Designated Player on loan from Spanish side Real Valladolid — made his mark in the 93rd minute, powering into the box before drawing a foul on John Stertzer. Feilhaber buried the ensuing penalty, but time ran out on Sporting Kansas City’s bid for an equalizer.
With a three-game home stand now complete, Sporting Kansas City will hit the road next Saturday for an inter-conference clash against defending Supporters’ Shield champion New York Red Bulls (1-3-0, 3 points) at Red Bull Arena. The match will kick off at 6 p.m. CT with live television coverage on 38 The Spot and SKCTV.
2016 MLS Regular Season
Game 4 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 20,553 (73rd straight MLS sellout)
Weather: 63 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City (3-1-0, 9 pts)||0||1||1|
|Real Salt Lake (2-0-2, 8 pts)||1||1||2|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Chance Myers, Nuno Andre Coelho, Kevin Ellis, Amadou Dia; Soni Mustivar, Benny Feilhaber, Jordi Quintilla (Jimmy Medranda 73); Brad Davis (Diego Rubio 80), Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi (C)
Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Seth Sinovic, Lawrence Olum, Jacob Peterson
Real Salt Lake: Jeff Attinella; Tony Beltran, Justen Glad, Aaron Maund, Chris Wingert (Demar Phillips 59); John Stertzer, Sunday Stephen, Luke Mulholland; Jordan Allen, Yura Movsisyan (Devon Sandoval 70), Joao Plata
Subs Not Used: Lalo Fernandez, Emilio Orozco, Andrew Brody, Olmes Garcia, Danilo Acosta
|Shots on Goal||3||8|
RSL -- Yura Movsisyan (caution; unsporting behavior) 67
RSL -- Joao Plata (caution; time wasting) 77
SKC -- Benny Feilhaber (caution; unsporting behavior) 90
RSL -- Luke Mulholland (caution; argument) 90
RSL -- Justen Glad 1 (Joao Plata 3) 29
RSL -- Luke Mulholland 1 (unassisted) 79
SKC -- Benny Feilhaber 1 (penalty kick) 94+