Real Salt Lake

10-Man RSL Falls Short of Remarkable Comeback, Dropping Final 2023 Regular Season Home Match to Kansas City

October 7, 2023 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Real Salt Lake News Release

SANDY, UTAH - Real Salt Lake (13-12-7, 46 points, 6th West) dropped its final regular-season home match of the 2023 campaign in a nail-biting, short-handed 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City. Despite going down a man just seconds into the contest and trailing by two goals at the half, RSL put forth a valiant effort to overcome the early deficit by scoring two goals in the span of eight minutes late in the game, but the comeback attempt - in front of 21,205, the fifth-largest crowd in venue history - fell just short.

RSL was quickly reduced to 10 men as defender Justen Glad was sent off in the third minute by referee Ted Unkel, after the official concluded following a VAR check that just 37 seconds into the match that Glad had denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity just outside the 18-yard-box. The foul set up Kansas City's Erik Thommy with the first goal of the game, curling a freekick inside the near post to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.

Kansas City added a second in the 29th minute when Logan Ndenbe centered a pass into the area for Johnny Russell, who redirected the ball to the bottom right corner to beat Zac MacMath. Despite the two-goal deficit and playing a man down, RSL battled for the remainder of the first half but was unable to find the back of the net before the break.

15 minutes into the second half, Andrés Gómez had RSL's best chance to that point in the match, sprinting down the right side into the box with a defender trailing behind him, but his shot was saved by Kansas City 'keeper Tim Melia. Super-sub Anderson Julio seemed to have cut the deficit in half in the 70th minute with a clinical finish, but the forward was ruled offside and the match remained 2-0 in favor of Kansas City.

On the other end the visitors continued to press RSL's backline, drawing a foul inside the box when Marcelo Silva fouled Ndenbe in the 77th minute. Alan Pulido stepped up to take the penalty and MacMath made a diving save to his left, but Pulido was there to pick up the rebound and put it in for a three-goal lead.

RSL drew a goal back in the 81st minute to spark a roar from the home fans once again. Maikel Chang's corner kick was cleared out of the box but Brayan Vera rocketed a missile off of the bounce into the top left corner from 35 yards out. The goal spurred on the RSL attack as the frontline continued to press for another goal, which nearly came six minutes later when Julio's shot was parried over the bar by Melia. MacMath was clutch down the stretch between the sticks, making seven total saves on the night keeping RSL in the match right down to the wire.

The RSL attack was relentless in search of a second goal, and the pressure paid off in the 89th minute as Jefferson Savarino slid a shot past the SKC 'keeper to pull RSL within one with minutes remaining. In the six minutes of stoppage time, RSL controlled possession and continued to push for the equalizer, but was unable to find the clinical touch in the attacking third and the match finished 3-2 to Sporting Kansas City.

UP NEXT: RSL travels to Los Angeles to take on LA Galaxy next Saturday, October 14 at 8:30 p.m. MT in the penultimate regular season match of the 2023 campaign, with the Galaxy eliminated from playoff contention and RSL needing points in its last two games to have home-field advantage in the first round. The two teams have split the season series so far across all competitions, with the Galaxy winning the first matchup in the regular season back in May by the score of 3-2, and RSL winning by the same scoreline in the U.S. Open Cup quarter final fixture a week later. The last time Pablo Mastroeni's squad battled at Dignity Health Sports Park was Matchday 37 of last year, where the Claret-and-Cobalt earned a road point after a tightly-contested 1-1 draw.


SKC: Erik Thommy 4th minute: Thommy whipped in a freekick to the near post from just outside the 18-yard-box.

SKC: Johnny Russell (Logan Ndenbe, Erik Thommy) 29th minute: Ndenbe attacked the box in possession and squared a pass to Russell at the center of the box who tapped it into the far corner.

SKC: Alan Pulido (penalty) 77th minute: Ndenbe drew a foul inside the box, and Pulido's first attempt from the spot was saved by MacMath, but the forward promptly volleyed the rebound into the back of the net.

RSL: Brayan Vera 81st minute: RSL's corner kick was dealt with by the Kansas City defense, but the clearance didn't make it past Vera, who volleyed a dart into the top left corner.

RSL: Jefferson Savarino 89th minute: Savarino found the end of a trickling ball inside the box, sliding a shot into the bottom right corner to pull the Claret-and-Cobalt within one.


Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni was forced to make two early substitutions, bringing on Marcelo Silva for Diego Luna in the game's fourth minute following Glad's dismissal, and replacing an injured Chicho Arango with Rubio Rubín inside 30 minutes.

Danny Musovski was originally listed as part of the matchday squad but was a gametime scratch after suffering a tweak in warmups.

Referee Ted Unkel's match-altering decision to send off Justen Glad after 37 seconds marks the second-fastest red card ejection in MLS history, behind Colorado's Joe Nasco (34 seconds). It's the third time in RSL history that a player has been sent off within the first 10 minutes of a match (Glad 2023, Nat Borchers 2011, Jack Stewart 2006).

RSL midfielder Maikel Chang substituted into the match in the 62nd minute, marking his 100th career MLS appearance, all with Real Salt Lake. Chang was an integral part in the 2019 Real Monarchs side that won the USL, before making his MLS debut with RSL in 2020.

Goalkeeper Zac MacMath was recognized as the Jordan Guernsey Humanitarian of the Year prior to the match.

Brayan Vera scored his third goal of the season on a laser in the 81st minute. All three of his goals have come from outside the 18-yard-box.

Forward Jefferon Savarino's goal in the 89th minute was his seventh of the season, vaulting him into the team lead ahead of Chich Arango (6) with two weeks remaining.


Real Salt Lake (4-4-2): Zac MacMath; Andrew Brody (Anderson Julio 62'), Bryan Oviedo (Maikel Chang 62'), Brayan Vera, Justen Glad; Braian Ojeda, Andrés Gómez (Bode Hidalgo 62'), Nelson Palacio, Diego Luna (Marcelo Silva 5'); Chicho Arango (Rubio Rubín 28'), Jefferson Savarino

Subs not used: Damir Kreilach, Emeka Eneli, Kevon Lambert, Gavin Beavers

Sporting Kansas City (4-3-3): Tim Melia; Robert Voloder, Dany Rosero (Robert Castellanos 46'), Jake Davis, Logan Ndenbe; Nemanja Radoja (Remi Walter 46'), Felipe Gutierrez, Erik Thommy (Gadi Kinda 58'); Johnny Russell (Marinos Tzionis 74'), Alan Pulido (Willy Agada 82'), Daniel Salloi

Subs not used: John Pulskamp, Graham Zusi, Khiry Shelton, Roger Espinoza

Stats Summary: RSL / SKC

Shots: 10/16Shots: 10/16

Shots on Goal: 4/10

Saves: 7/2

Corner Kicks: 6/4

Fouls: 9/9


RSL: Justen Glad (ejection) 3'

SKC: Nemanja Radoja (caution) 38'

RSL: Brayan Vera (caution) 57'

SKC: Tim Melia (caution) 90'+2'

RSL: Zac MacMath (caution) 90'+7' | |

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