By The Numbers - Sporting KC at Real Salt Lake - October 22, 2017

By The Numbers presented by KDOT: #RSLvSKC

"By The Numbers" is a season-long series sponsored by The Kansas Department of Transportation, giving a statistical preview of every Sporting KC match.

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The immediate fates of Sporting Kansas City (12-8-13, 49 points) and Real Salt Lake (12-15-6, 42 points) hang in the balance when both clubs renew their Western Conference rivalry in Sunday's all-important Decision Day finale at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest and FOX Sports GO, with pregame coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Sporting Kansas City has already secured a seventh straight playoff berth with a game to spare, but Peter Vermes' men could still finish anywhere between second and fifth in the West. A draw in Utah would run Sporting KC the risk of opening the playoffs away from home in the knockout round for a fourth straight year. On the opposite sideline, Real Salt Lake absolutely must win in order to have a shot at jumping from eighth place into the sixth and final playoff spot. We take a statistical look at Sunday's showdown in our By The Numbers preview.

Head-to-Head

  • The all-time regular season series is dead even through 25 games, with both teams owning nine wins and seven draws.
  • The sides most recently met on July 22 in Utah, settling for a 1-1 draw as Luis Silva and Benny Feilhaber traded goals at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • Sporting KC won the first meeting of 2017 by a 3-0 scoreline on April 29 at Children's Mercy Park, using goals from Feilhaber and Gerso to snap a seven-game regular season winless skid against RSL (0-4-3).
  • Sporting KC has a 3-6-3 road record in the series, including a winless drought of four matches at Rio Tinto Stadium. A dramatic 2-1 away win in July 2013, decided by Ike Opara's 97th-minute header, was followed by a pair of 2-1 road defeats in 2015 and a scoreless draw on the penultimate weekend of the 2016 campaign last October. 
  • Feilhaber has five goals and two assists in his last eight appearances vs. RSL in all competitions.
  • Outside of regular season play, Sporting KC has defeated Real Salt Lake in each of the last two meetings. Peter Vermes' men beat RSL in the 2013 MLS Cup and the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals.

Real Salt Lake

  • 2017 MLS record: 12-10-10, 46 points (5th in West)
  • 2017 MLS home record: 1-9-6 (14 GF, 28 GA)
  • Last five games: 2-1-2, 8 points (L-T-T-W-W)
  • Last MLS match: L 0-1 at Colorado Rapids on Sunday
  • After starting the season 5-12-2, RSL has gone 7-3-4 with 30 goals scored and just 16 conceded.
  • RSL has won four straight home games, outscoring opponents 12-2 during the dominant stretch.
  • RSL has scored 15 goals in the last 15 minutes of matches this season, second most in MLS. Conversely, RSL's 13 goals conceded in the first 15 minutes of games are most in MLS.
  • RSL leads MLS in shots per game (16.3) and shots on target per game (5.5).
  • Midfielder Albert Rusnak is second in MLS with 97 chances created. He leads the team with 13 assist and is tied for the team lead with seven goals.
  • Forward Joao Plata is sixth in MLS in both chances created (79) and shots (95). He is one of two MLS players (Diego Valeri) to rank in the top 10 in both categories.
  • Forward Jefferson Savarino has scored each of his six goals since the start of July, including goals in three of his last four home appearances at Rio Tinto Stadium. Similarly, forward Luis Silva has scored each of his six goals since July 22.
  • RSL has lost just once in the eight games defender Marcelo Silva has played this season.

 Sporting KC

  • 2017 MLS record: 12-8-13, 49 points (4th in West)
  • 2017 MLS away record: 10-1-5 (30 GF, 11 GA)
  • Last five games: 2-2-1, 7 points (W-W-L-T-L)
  • Last MLS match: T 0-0 vs. Houston Dynamo on Sunday
  • SKC has clinched a club-record seventh straight playoff appearance and can finish anywhere between second and fifth in the West.
  • SKC has conceded a league-low 27 goals this season, eight fewer than any other team. In addition, their 16 road goals allowed are five fewer than any other team.
  • If SKC earns a shutout on Sunday, their 27 goals allowed and 0.79 GAA would be tied for the lowest in league history in a 34-game regular season.
  • SKC's nine away goals are the second-fewest in MLS. The club has been shut out in nine of 16 road games this season.
  • Matt Besler leads MLS defenders with 61 successful passes per game and boasts a 0.72 goals against average in 24 league starts. 
  • Graham Zusi's 56 chances created are the second-most ever by a defender in a single regular season.
  • Defender Ike Opara boasts a 16-5-13 record as a starter in all competitions. SKC has a 0.68 goals against average and 14 shutouts in the 34 matches he has played.
  • Midfielder Ilie is second in MLS in total passes (2,238) and ranks third in passes completed (1,916).
  • Forward Gerso leads Sporting KC with 10 goals in all competitions. Diego Rubio is second with seven, all of which have come since July 6.

Scenarios: 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs

How Sporting KC can finish second in the West (knockout round bye)

  • Win at Real Salt Lake, AND
  • Portland loses or ties vs. Vancouver, AND
  • Seattle loses or ties vs. Colorado

How Sporting KC can finish third in the West (host SJ, FCD or RSL in knockout round)

  • Win at Real Salt Lake, AND
  • Only one of Portland or Seattle drops points to Vancouver or Colorado, respectively

How Sporting KC can finish fourth in the West (host Houston in knockout round)

  • Win at Real Salt Lake, AND Portland and Seattle both win vs. Vancouver and Colorado, respectively, OR
  • Tie at Real Salt Lake, AND Houston Dynamo loses or ties vs. Chicago Fire, OR
  • Lose at Real Salt Lake, AND Houston Dynamo loses or ties vs. Chicago Fire

How Sporting KC can finish fifth in the West (visit Houston or Seattle in knockout round)

  • Tie at Real Salt Lake, AND Houston wins vs. Chicago, OR
  • Lose at Real Salt Lake, AND Houston wins vs. Chicago

How Real Salt Lake can claim the six-seed in the West

  • Win vs. Sporting KC, AND San Jose loses or ties vs. Minnesota, AND FC Dallas loses or ties vs. LA, OR
  • Tie vs. Sporting KC, AND San Jose loses vs. Minnesota, AND FC Dallas loses vs. LA

Recent #RSLvSKC meetings

  • Regular season record vs. RSL: 9-9-7 (31 GF, 30 GA)
  • Regular season away record at RSL: 3-6-3 (14 GF, 18 GA)
Date Result H/A Competition Details
04/11/2015 T 0-0 Home MLS RSL held to four shot attempts and none on goal
06/21/2015 L 1-2 Away MLS Dom Dwyer equalizes but Olmes Garcia nets 92nd-minute winner
07/24/2015 L 1-2 Away MLS Benny Feilhaber bags beatuy but Javier Morales and Joao Plata secure win
08/12/2015 W 3-1 Home Open Cup Semifinal includes goals from Feilhaber, Soni Mustivar and Krisztian Nemeth
04/02/2016 L 1-2 Home MLS Justen Glad and Luke Mulholland score before Feilhaber nets late PK
05/21/2016 L 1-3 Home MLS Dwyer scores, but goals from Burrito Martinez and Yura Movsisyan propel RSL
10/16/2016 T 0-0 Away MLS Tim Melia makes four saves in scoreless stalemate
04//29/2017 W 3-0 Home MLS Feilhaber, Dwyer and Gerso score in comfortable home win
07/22/2017 T 1-1 Away MLS Feilhaber bags second-half PK to cancel out Luis Silva's opener

Team stats (2017 regular season)

MLS rank in parenthesis (source: Opta)

Category (per game) SKC RSL
Goals scored 1.18 (18th) 1.42 (13th)
Goals conceded 0.82 (1st) 1.64 (16th)
Shots 15.0 (2nd) 16.3 (1st)
Shots on goal 5.0 (4th) 5.5 (1st)
Shooting accuracy 44.4 (16th) 44.9 (14th)
Passing accuracy 83.4 (1st) 77.6 (16th)
Possession 57.8 (2nd) 52.3 (6th)
Duels won 47.5 (13th) 46.0 (18th)
Tackles won 11.2 (22nd) 11.9 (18th)
Interceptions 11.5 (22nd) 13.4 (7th)
Fouls committed 11.0 (17th) 13.0 (6th)
Fouls suffered 12.0 (6th) 10.5 (20th)
Shots faced 10.0 (1st) 12.2 (9th)
Series: 
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