HOW IT PLAYED OUT
Not long ago, this night would've drawn significant attention not only in Kansas City and Salt Lake, but also around the league. Rivals, not by geography but more temperament and history, Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake have played a handful of heated, controversial matches that have kept everyone on the edge of their seats through the 90-minute exchanges.
But things were different on this night. There was less noise, less controversy — the result of one side still searching for a new identity.
Absent Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman, under the direction of a coach still looking to get his feet wet with his senior side, Real Salt Lake is a club at a crossroads. Its cornerstone players who carried it to the highest of heights have aged past the point of consistency, but its young players who it must now look to have yet to reach a level where they can grab the baton and consistently earn results.
That shaky footing was exposed on Saturday night at a rain-soaked Children's Mercy Park. An open field and comical defending from the visitors at times helped spur Sporting KC to a strong 3-0 victory. Benny Feilhaber and Dom Dwyer scored on each side of halftime to give Sporting KC its fourth win of the season, and its fifth shutout in eight total games. Gerso added a third with seconds remaining in the game to cap off what was a joyous evening despite the dampened setting.
MAN OF THE MATCH
The Graham Zusi right back experiment is no longer that. Zusi solidified himself on the backline well before tonight, but once again he looked comfortable against the opposing team's strongest attacking player. His positioning and footing disrupted Joao Plata, who had to carry more on his shoulders without Beckerman helping distribute in the attack. His defense once again enabled him to push into the attack, where he earned an assist — albeit a quite easy one — on Feilhaber's goal.
Roger Espinoza should also earn some praise for his performance tonight. The veteran midfielder was all over the field, and delivered a perfect ball to the feet of Zusi to set up the opening golazo.
GIF OF THE MATCH
Major League Soccer isn't kidding around with its Don't Cross the Line campaign.
Home against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday