Sporting Kansas City Drops 1-0 Decision at Real Salt Lake

September 17, 2011 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Sporting Kansas City News Release

Sporting Kansas City were defeated for only the third time in 21 MLS matches on Saturday, narrowly falling 1-0 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers' header in the 54th minute off a Kyle Beckerman free kick proved the difference despite Sporting Kansas City outshooting their Western Conference rivals 11-5 on their home field.

Despite the loss, Sporting Kansas City remains in second place in the Eastern Conference, one point back of the Columbus Crew with five games remaining in the regular season.

The first chance for Sporting Kansas City came in the opening minute of play, when Graham Zusi played Kei Kamara into space on the right flank. Kamara ran past Real Salt Lake defender Chris Schuler before firing a low cross into the area that rolled precariously across the goalmouth, and was eventually cleared by a recovering Robbie Russell.

In the seventh minute, Sporting Kansas City earned a throw-in deep on the lefttouchline, setting up Matt Besler's service into the Salt Lake penalty area. The throw was met by Aurelien Collin, who directed his header towards goal, only to be tipped over the bar by Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Sporting Kansas City and Collin again went close from a set piece in the 23rd minute after a foul was whistled down the right flank. Zusi struck the ensuing free kick into the penalty area that was allowed to fall inside the six-yard box. Collin was closest, but his close-range attempt was saved by the foot of Rimando.

It wasn't until the 41st minute that Rimando produced his best work of the half, however. On the ball just over midfield, Julio Cesar released a streaking Roger Espinoza into the left channel behind the Salt Lake backline. Espinoza drove into the area and hit a low cross into the six-yard box withruns from both Kamara and Teal Bunbury into the goalmouth. Rimando, however, managed to win the ball, extending low to his left to beat away the danger as the two sides entered the half scoreless.

The second half began with no changes for either side, and Salt Lake edged in front in the 54th minute. Following a foul thirty yards from goal, Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman clipped a lofted pass to the far post. Defender Nat Borchers was first to Beckerman's ball, and nodded a header to the far post beyond Jimmy Nielsen for his third goal of the 2011 season.

Sporting Kansas City would answer back with two chances of their own, the first coming off the foot of Julio Cesar. With space in front of him, Cesar drove towards the Salt Lake penalty area before letting loose a left-footed drive that Rimando did well to push over. The ensuing corner was initially cleared, but Cesar once again collected at the edge of the box before picking out Michael Harrington, who's cross was headed just wide of the near post by Bunbury.

In the 77th minute, Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio found himself in behind the Sporting Kansas City backline. Saborio took a touch to settle, but the Costa Rican international's rasping drive was turned away well byNielsen.

Ten minutes later, Real Salt Lake striker Fabian Espindola took his turn to run at Nielsen on the break, but the Danish netminder again intervened, coming out to make the foot save.

Moments later on the opposite end, Kamara sent in a dangerous cross that was destined for Bunbury, but Rimando came out to clear the cross from danger.

The back-and-forth match provided entertainment right up until the final whistle, as Nielsen was caught out of the penalty area in the second minute of stoppage time. Real Salt Lake midfielder Jean Alexandre sent a cross toward the empty net, but Besler was there to win the header and keep Sporting KC's hopes for an equalizer alive.

The visitors had one last scoring opportunity with a corner kick in the final minute, but Sporting KC couldn't capitalize and Real Salt Lake secured their fourth consecutive victory, matching the longest winning streak in MLS thisseason.

Sporting Kansas City next hosts the Philadelphia Union on Friday, September 23rd at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Tickets are available at or at the LIVESTRONG Sporting Park box offices.

FAST FACTS - Sporting Kansas City is now 10-9-10 and remains in second place in the Eastern Conference, one point back of the Columbus Crew for first place. - Sporting Kansas City is 6-5-3 all-time against Real Salt Lake and 2-4-1 on the road in the series. - The loss was Sporting Kansas City's first in their last seven road matches. Sporting Kansas City is 3-7-5 away from LIVESTRONG Sporting Park this season. - Sporting Kansas City held Real Salt Lake without a shot on goal in the first half of Saturday's contest, the third consecutive half and ninth half of 2011 without allowing an opponent a shot on goal. Real Salt Lake's goal in the 54th minute snapped a stretch of 160 minutes that Sporting Kansas City had held opponents without a shot on goal dating back to a 2-2 draw against the LA Galaxy on Labor Day. - Prior to Saturday, Sporting Kansas City has not been shutout in 14 straightgames dating back to a scoreless draw at the Philadelphia Union on June 22nd. - Sporting Kansas City has a +6 goal differential in 2011, tied for the best margin in the Eastern Conference. - Sporting Kansas City's 40 points earned through 29 games in 2011 is the most points earned through 29 games since the 2005 season when Kansas City earned a total of 43 points. - Saturday's match was Sporting Kansas City's first on the road in a span of 63 days, dating back to a 1-1 draw at Houston on July 16th. - Sporting Kansas City began the season with their first 10 MLS matches on the road, a new MLS record. - Sporting Kansas City is 1-5-3 when tied at halftime in 2011. - Sporting Kansas City is 1-6-6 when allowing the first goal in 2011. - Sporting Kansas City has lost only three times in their past 21 MLS matches. - With an appearance Saturday, captain Davy Arnaud now has 248 games played (including postseason) for Sporting Kansas City, moving him past Nick Garcia and into sole possession of second place on the club's all-time games played chart when including postseason. - Sporting Kansas City striker Kei Kamara started the 100th regular season match of his MLS career on Saturday and 50th regular season game started in his KC career. - Kamara becomes the fourth current Sporting KC player to log 100 regular season games started in their MLS career. - Sporting Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong played 21 minutes on Saturday and is the only Sporting Kansas City player to appear in all 29 MLS matches for the club this season. - Sapong leads all MLS rookies in games played (29) and points (12) in 2011. - Defender Matt Besler has started 22 straight MLS matches for Sporting Kansas City, the most of all current players. - Newly-acquired defender Lawrence Olum made his first appearance in SportingKansas City's gameday squad, but did not enter the match. - Real Salt Lake was without defender Tony Beltran, who served a mandatory one-match suspension on Saturday following his ejection in Real Salt Lake's last match. - Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman received a caution in the 69th minute and will miss the club's next match due to yellow card accumulation. - With the victory, Real Salt Lake tied the longest winning streak in MLS this season with four consecutive wins. - Real Salt Lake has not had an MLS match end in a draw in their past 11 games. - LIVESTRONG Sporting Park hosted the U.S. Women's National Team on Saturday night in their first match since the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup finals. The USWNT, playing their fifth all-time match in Kansas City, played to a 1-1 draw against Canada. - The attendance for the match was 16,191, many of whom remained in the stadium following the friendly to watch Sporting Kansas City's match against Real Salt Lake which was shown on the HD videoboards and inside the Members' Club.

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