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A lead, at home, squandered by Sporting Kansas City v RSL



Thad Bell Photography

Home sweet home.

“The life I love is makin’ music with my friends. And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Two prominent ideas clashed Wednesday evening at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS, when Sporting Kansas City hosted Real Salt Lake in a midweek MLS Western Conference battle. Neither side sang a righteous tune at the end as the teams finished level at 2-2, though Sporting Kansas City had taken command at home.

In 2023, Sporting’s home record has not exactly been sterling at five wins and a draw in 11 matches. Meanwhile, Salt Lake has been dominant with six wins and two draws in eleven. That includes a clean 5-0-2 in their last seven away games, not to mention a 5-0-2 in their last seven entire.

Yet, the two sides shared one plaudit – their six wins per side since May leads the West and they sit one and two in points since May in the West with 22 and 23 respectively.

To push for their second in a row at home, Sporting Manager Peter Vermes went with this eleven:


Midfielder Nemanja Radoja came back into the Starting Eleven from last week, seeing Gadi Kinda take a seat on the bench.

Kansas City loitered in Salt Lake’s end in the first 15 minutes, often looking to play over the top or around the corners of the compact RSL shape.

The visitors hit the first venomous strike of the match in the 24th minute with a knuckling drive from Nelson Palaciori 26 yards out from Kendall McIntosh’s frame. The Sporting netminder deflected for an innocuous corner.

After RSL’s Bryan Oviedo rang McIntosh’s left post in the 28th minute, Sporting took command the rest of the half. The assault began in the 30th minute as Erik Thommy threaded a through ball for winger Johnny Russell, deputizing on the left wing. Russell drove deep and his lofted cross found companion winger Danial Salloi wide open at the back post for a volleyed strike past Salt Lake goalkeeper Gavin Beavers for the lead.

Russell would feature six minutes later from the other wing. From Thommy, Russell drove in the box, put his defender in a blender, and rocketed a shot past the now very busy Beaver.

RSL Manager Pablo Mastroeni made three subs before the second half to try and get his team back into the match.

The dividends were almost immediate.

Attacking through the inner right channel, RSL played long for Sub Cristian Arango. Arango  fed Danny Musovski who lifted his head and chipped over a beleaguered McIntosh.  As Musoviski had made a lost second movement to stay onside, the VAR official called over Referee Rubiel Vazquez. The goal was confirmed and much of the confident air the home fans were feeling deflated out of the stadium.

Deflation turned to indignation in the 72nd minute. Salt Lake’s Anderson Julio stripped Rosero inside Sporting’s half, seemingly fouling him in the process, and headed towards goal. As McIntosh challenged, the RSL attacker rolled the ball under for the match leveler and a mouths agape response from Sporting and a heated response from their fans.

The current state reflected Sporting’s dubious pattern of having the second worst record in MLS when scoring first at 5-3-3 coming into the night.

Despite each side going close in the ensuing minutes, it was Sporting that would have to come up big.

Julio was put in on goal in the 89th minute, but this time McIntosh got a piece of the salvo, denying RSL the lead.

The 2-2 draw and the resulting single point was another dent in a series of dents in Sporting’s playoff chances. Lost leads and inconsistent performances at home make for costly damage.

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