Recap: Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake

 

The Sports Network

Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Aurelien Collin buried the go-ahead penalty kick and Jimmy Nielsen made one huge save on Saturday as Sporting Kansas City won its second-ever MLS Cup in spectacular fashion, topping Real Salt Lake, 7-6, in a shootout at Sporting Park.

After an exhausting 90 minutes of regulation plus 30 minutes of extra time in frozen conditions, it all came down to strikes from 12 yards out as Sporting's Claudio Bieler opened proceedings with a goal.

But RSL's Alvaro Saborio ripped his effort over the bar. Paulo Nagamura converted and Ned Grabavoy was stopped by Nielsen to give the home side a quick 2-0 lead in the shootout.

After hometown defender Matt Besler missed and Kyle Beckerman blasted it home, RSL got back into it. Graham Zusi wasted his chance to win it in the fifth round and Javier Morales scored to pull the sides level.

The clubs remained even into the decisive 10th round of the shootout when Collin, who scored the equalizer in the 76th minute of normal time, smashed it home with authority to give the hosts the lead.

Substitute Lovel Palmer stepped to the spot for RSL needing to score to keep his club alive, but his strike banged off the crossbar, handing Sporting its second-ever MLS Cup title and first since 2000.

It was an incredibly chippy first half with fouls all over the pitch from both clubs. Both teams were wasteful with their scoring chances as the game was scoreless at the intermission.

The visitors had the better of the play to open the second half and took the lead in the 52nd minute through a spectacular piece of play from Beckerman and Saborio.

After collecting a loose ball in the attacking third, Beckerman unleashed a beautiful ball over the top to Saborio, who took the ball down off the chest and buried it past Nielsen into the bottom right corner.

But, as they have done throughout the postseason, Sporting bounced back to find its equalizer 13 minutes from time when Zusi whipped a perfect cross into the penalty area on a corner kick. Collin, outmuscled RSL defender Chris Schuler and got a powerful header away that flew into the top left corner of the net.

The match was tense in extra time and appeared to have turned in favor of RSL when Saborio got his head on a cross from Schuler and directed it into the roof of the net, but it was waived off for offside.

Little could separate the sides in the second period of extra time as the game would be decided in the shootout.

Game Notes

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