It was a night that will bring up frustrating memories for Sporting KC fans. A dominant performance on the stat line, but they were unable to get all three points. Ike Opara made up for a mistake on the first goal to score the equalizer, but SKC simply couldn’t find the winner.
The Sporting Kansas City defense was very shaky from the first whistle and RSL was able to open up the scoring in the 9th minute. The visitors were working on a quick counter attack when Jefferson Savarino sent Corey Baird on goal. Ike Opara was caught stepping up to late and fell to the ground as the ball slipped right passed him. Baird, looking like a seasoned veteran, fired a shot passed Melia and into the net for the early lead.
But SKC had plenty of opportunities of their own. Krisztian Nemeth had a golden opportunity in the 18th minute on a free kick that was sent across the face of goal by Matt Besler. The Hungarian stretched out his boot but was unable to direct it over the line. It was just four minutes later when Espinoza played an absolutely gorgeous long ball to put Russell on goal, but Nick Rimando came up with a huge save.
Perhaps the best chance of the half was one that actually never happened. Nemeth got behind the RSL defense with a ball from Besler but he was called offside. He looked to be in an onside position, but the play was called dead before anything could happen.
Whatever it was that Peter Vermes said to the defense during halftime, it worked. The defense was keeping good shape and everyone had little more urgency on the pitch. Opara came up big a few times and looked like a different player than first half.
His efforts were rewarded in the 52nd minute on a Johnny Russell corner kick. It was a perfect, curling ball right on the penalty spot. Opara rose above - well above -the crowd to head the ball home.
You read that right. Sporting KC scored directly off a corner kick.
But the match took a frustrating turn after the equalizer. The time wasting and other various antics from the Salt Lake players had tensions high. There was yelling, almost-fights, and a yellow card for Felipe Gutierrez.
SKC was pressing for a goal desperately. Real Salt Lake was more than happy to sit back and conserve their point. Chance after chance went for naught. Vermes even brought on Diego Rubio, Yohan Croizet, and Daniel Salloi for attacking reinforcements.
Rubio was lively and a positive addition to the game almost immediately. He was causing problems for the defense with his movement as well as some dangerous passes.
Gerso squandered a huge chance to win the match in the 81st minute. Rubio sent him a beautiful ball and Gerso only had Rimando to beat. But he took a heavy touch that lead to a collision with the RSL shot stopper. Rimando was down for a really long time, but was ultimately okay (unsurprisingly).
After a frantic stoppage time, the match came to an end in a 1-1 draw. Sporting KC took 20 shots on the night, versus RSL’s six. A failure to secure all three points on a night like this is an unfortunate reminder of this team’s struggles in years’ past.
A win would have brought Kansas City to the top of the West but for now they remain in 2nd place, two points behind FC Dallas.