Sporting Kansas City opened the Visit Tucson Sun Cup with a late afternoon match-up against their arch rivals — Real Salt Lake.
Sporting KC’s starting XI was Richard Sanchez, Graham Zusi, Roberto Puncec, Matt Besler, Luis Martins, Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza, Gadi Kinda, Khiry Shelton, Alan Pulido, Daniel Salloi.
For most of the first half Real Salt Lake stayed deep in their half. Often they kept 10 men behind the ball and SKC were forced to send in crosses. Finally in the 25th minute Sporting worked a good ball down the left side. It start with Salloi pulling a darling ball out of the sky, passing to Espinoza who sent it wide to Martins. Martins would send a low cross intended for Pulido only to have the defender clear it for a corner at the absolute last moment.
The first really scary moment came as RSL flooded numbers into the box and Zusi clattered into the RSL attacker (no numbers on their kits, sorry). No foul was called but it was a borderline penalty kick.
The first yellow card of the game went to Ilie Sanchez for a crunching challenge that got the ball but definitely followed through the man.
It went into the half 0-0.
The second half started much like the first. Sporting controlling the game with RSL sitting deep. Then in the 49th minute Kinda sent a through ball to to Russell who did Johnny Russell things to beat his man but instead of a shot he laid it back across but no one was home. Martins eventually got there and hit a laser at the keeper but it was parried away. That was the first shot of the game!
The best chance of the second half came just before the full switch. Sporting were pushing up the field but Kinda’s pass came up just short but a quick turnover was sent to Russell who had his shot just pushed wide by the keeper.
In the 62nd minute SKC did nearly a full switch. Here is the lineup: John Pulskamp, Jaylin Lindsey, Graham Smith, Botond Barath, Amadou Dia, Camden Riley, Gianluca Busio, Jake Davis, Johnny Russell, Tyler Freeman, Cameron Duke.
Shortly after the sub in the 71st minute RSL had their first chance of the game. Botond was beat down the left and the ball was sent in hard but Pulskamp dived for the save but slightly spilled it before Lindsey quickly blasted it away.
On a corner in the 76th minute the “backups” generated a chance when Russell recycled a ball off a corner kick but Smith headed it over the bar.
In the 82nd minute on another Russell corner Busio took a touch after RSL’s half clearance and the defender got a hand on the ball. The free kick was just outside the 18-yard-box. Russell went for a cheeky chip but it sailed wide of the goal.
The game would ultimately end in a nil-nil draw. SKC will be back in action on Wednesday against Phoenix Rising FC back up in Scottsdale, Arizona for their second game of the Sun Cup and their penultimate preseason game.