Sporting KC 2, Real Salt Lake 1 (PK)

David Smale, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchangeDecember 8, 2013


KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Sporting Kansas City won its second MLS Cup, and first since 2000, with a victory on penalty kicks over Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final in front of 21,650 fans Saturday at Sporting Park.
Sporting KC won an epic 7-6 penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in regulation.
It took 10 rounds to decide the championship, the first time ever the MLS Cup final went past seven rounds of penalty kicks.
Aurelien Collin, who scored SKC's goal in regulation, sneaked one past goaltender Nick Rimando to give his side the edge. When Lovel Palmer's shot hit the top crossbar, the Sporting Kansas City crowd celebrated the city's first professional sports championship in 13 years.
It was the third time the MLS Cup final was decided in penalty kicks, and the first time since 2009 when Real Salt Lake defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The game was played in 20-degree weather that made footing treacherous. As the afternoon progressed the temperature dropped and the footing got worse.
Alvaro Saborio sneaked one past Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielson in the 52nd minute to give Real Salt Lake its second MLS Cup since 2009. The goal was the first ever for RSL in three games at Sporting Park.
But Collin headed the tying goal past Rimando off a corner kick from Graham Zusi.
Saborio appeared to score a go-ahead goal in the 105th minute on a header past Nielsen, but he was offside on the play.
Sporting Kansas City continued a recent trend with the victory. Sporting is the last seventh team in the last 10 MLS Cup finals that allowed the first goal and still won the match.
The first half ended in a scoreless draw. Neither team's offense could gain much traction, literally or figuratively. The icy conditions left the field slippery and players from both teams slipped when trying to get a foothold. Sporting KC led in shots, 8-2 in the half, and held possession 52 percent of the half.
Each team really only had one good scoring chance.
Real Salt Lake got behind SKC's defense, but Robbie Findley's shot hit the post. In stoppage time, Dom Dwyer got tangled with RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who deflected his shot from short range. but Sporting KC had no one else in the area and RSL kept control.
RSL came out much more aggressive in the second half, culminating in Saborio's goal. The 2,000 or so Real Salt Lake fans almost drowned out the partisan home fans until Collin's game-tying goal.
NOTES: This game marked the first time two former players squared off in the MLS Cup final as coaches. SKC's Peter Vermes was a player on the 2000 Cup champions, then called the Kansas City Wizards. RSL's Jason Kreis ranks fifth all-time in goals in MLS history (108). ... It's also the first time a former player has been on the losing end in the Cup final. ... Real Salt Lake had the second best offense in MLS this season, scoring 57 goals, second only to the New York Red Bulls. ... Sporting Kansas City had the best defense in MLS, allowing 30 goals in 34 games.