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Drilling down on: at Sporting KC 1, Real Salt Lake 0

Apr 14, 2012, 11:00 PM EDT

New York Red Bulls v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

Man of the Match: Sporting Kansas City’s Aurelien Collin is a top-level MLS center back when he plays in control. Saturday, we saw the “under control” Collin, timing his challenges and entrances into passing lanes to claim almost everything near him. His work in the first half was especially flawless, and then he turned up with the game-winning header to keep his team’s record perfect through six matches.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Collin was 100 percent unchallenged on the game-winner; It was RSL’s Alvaro Saborio who lost Collin on the restart.
  • A contest between the best of each conference played out very tactically. RSL was fairly conservative, which isn’t really the RSL way. Fullbacks Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert mostly declined to join the attack, and midfielders were slow to arrive in support of their strikers. The result was quality soccer, but “tactically” quality soccer, and not necessarily explosive attacking stuff.
  • Sporting Kansas City’s high-pressure ways, so expertly coordinated in terms of when to press as a unit, made things tough on Real Salt Lake. The visitors never found the passing rhythm for which Jason Kreis’ teams are known.
  • The early corner kicks by Graham Zusi and Bobby Convey were brutal. Surprisingly so. But Zusi began finding the sweet spot on his deliveries, including the game-winning assist to Collin.
  • That assist matched Thierry Henry’s in New York, which means Zusi still leads the league (and Henry) by one.
  • Speaking of corner kicks, it’s awful tough to see where the foul was on C.J. Sapong’s disallowed first-half goal.
  • If you watch the impact Kei Kamara continually has on matches, including a lot of laudable help on SKC’s defensive end, and then compare it to the impact-Lite that Convey is supplying on the opposite  wing, it’s not even close.
  • The only sore point Saturday for Sporting Kansas City: Peter Vermes’ team did, finally, allow a shot on goal. So the streak was snapped at a remarkable 335 minutes.
  • That shot on goal? By the end, RSL center back Nat Borchers was playing as another forward, as RSL resorted the old faithful of late, playing-from-behind tactics, pushing long balls hopefully into the penalty area. Borchers got onto one to direct a header on goal, which Jimmy Neilsen handled comfortably.
  • Last shot on goal against Sporting Kansas City before Borchers’ header: March 25.
  • Real Salt Lake went to a 4-3-3 for the last 15 minutes and did find space not previously available, mostly out on the right wing, where Fabian Espindola gave left back Seth Sinovic some trouble.
  • Roger Espinoza had another busy, effective night as the left-sided man in SKC’s midfield triangle. Like Collin, he’s a highly useful and skillful individual when he plays under control.
  1. dreadpirate82 - Apr 15, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Collin and Olave were a lot of fun to watch tonight. I don’t understand how a man Olave’s size moves so fast. Those two should start the All Star Game side-by-side. That would be a helluva beastly pair.

    Rough game for the official. Phantom doesn’t even begin to describe that call. Brutal brutal brutal. Should have been 2-0.

  2. crossmlk - Apr 15, 2012 at 4:08 AM

    What most people commenting on the poor corners and for that matter the poor quality of any balls in the air during this match don’t realize is there was a 40 MPH wind swirling in the stadium. It’s tornado season in this part of the country and the weather has been brutal throughout the state this evening. Fortunately other than the wind the conditions were very good.

    • Steve Davis - Apr 15, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      That’s a fair point. Probably easy to underestimate the wind effect when you’re not there to see and feel it first-hand.

    • dreadpirate82 - Apr 15, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      And the wind seemed to change every 30-60 seconds. Very tricky.

      Forgot to comment on Rimando’s brilliant save on Kamara’s shot in the second half. Great reaction.

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