MLS Cup Preview: RSL at Sporting Kansas City

Claret-and-Cobalt look to hoist second MLS Cup in club history

KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Real Salt Lake (West No. 2) will look to hoist its second MLS Cup in club history on Saturday, when the Claret-and-Cobalt will take on Sporting Kansas City (East No. 2) in MLS Cup 2013 at Sporting Park. MLS Cup 2013 will kick off at 2:00 p.m. MT and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN and UniMas and locally on ESPN 700 AM.

Saturday’s match will be RSL’s second appearance in MLS Cup. The Claret-and-Cobalt won MLS Cup 2009, defeating the heavily-favored LA Galaxy in a penalty kick shootout in a neutral-site game in Seattle to take home the league trophy. Sporting Kansas City won the right to host Saturday’s MLS Cup by virtue of having a better regular season record than RSL.

Real Salt Lake began its playoff journey over a month ago, kicking off postseason play at LA on Nov. 3. The Claret-and-Cobalt dropped that first leg of the Western Conference Semifinal series 1-0 at the Galaxy, but rebounded in the return leg on Nov. 7, beating LA 2-0 after extra time to win the series 2-1 on aggregate and advance to the Western Conference Championship series against the Portland Timbers. RSL ran all over Portland in the West Championship first leg, defeating the Timbers 4-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Nov. 10. The Claret-and-Cobalt put in a classy second leg performance to seal the series, topping Portland 1-0 at JELD-WEN Field on Nov. 24 to win the series 5-2 and move to MLS Cup 2013.

RSL and Sporting Kansas City met once in 2013, with SKC scoring a 97th minute goal to defeat 10-man Real Salt Lake 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 20. Real Salt Lake FW Robbie Findley opened the scoring in the 56th minute, heading past SKC GK Jimmy Nielsen to give the Claret-and-Cobalt the lead. Things went haywire for RSL after DF Chris Wingert was shown a second yellow card and ejected in the 66th minute, with SKC exploiting its numerical advantage to equalize through FW Soony Saad in the 67th before getting its winner from DF Ike Opara in the 97th.

RSL was missing four key players in that match, with Captain Kyle Beckerman, DF Tony Beltran, GK Nick Rimando and FW Alvaro Saborio all gone with their respective national teams for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Sporting Kansas City played without MLS Best XI DF Matt Besler, who was also gone on international duty.

Real Salt Lake heads into Saturday’s match almost completely healthy. Saborio (R hip flexor strain) and Wingert (fractured rib, pneumothorax) are both looking likely to take the field for the Claret-and-Cobalt after missing the better part of the last four weeks due to injury. The prognosis isn’t as good for RSL rookie FW Devon Sandoval, who has been in and out of training this week due to a foot injury.

Saturday’s match will be the first MLS Cup Playoff meeting between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City. RSL is 5-8-3 in MLS regular season play against SKC, posting a 1-5-2 record at Kansas City. RSL’s only win at KC came on Aug. 29, 2009, with former RSL FW Pablo Campos scoring an 18th minute goal to give the Claret-and-Cobalt a 1-0 win over the then-Wizards at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.  

How to Follow MLS Cup 2013 – Real Salt Lake at Sporting Kansas City

  • Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. MT at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas
  • TV: ESPN, UniMas
  • English Radio: ESPN 700 AM (Pregame begins at 6:00 p.m. MT)
  • Spanish Radio: La Gran D 102.3 FM & Juan 1600 AM
  • Online: The @RealSaltLake Twitter Feed will provide live match updates

RSL History v. Sporting Kansas City

Saturday’s match will be the first MLS Cup Playoff meeting between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City. RSL is 5-8-3 in MLS regular season play against SKC, posting a 1-5-2 record at Kansas City. RSL’s only win at KC came on Aug. 29, 2009, with former RSL FW Pablo Campos scoring an 18th minute goal to give the Claret-and-Cobalt a 1-0 win over the then-Wizards at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.