Collin header helps lead unbeaten Sporting KC past RSL

CollinSportingKC (Getty)


Any doubts about just which team is the very best in Major League Soccer at the moment were put to rest on Saturday night as Sporting Kansas City delivered their latest masterpiece performance.

Sporting KC thoroughly outplayed Real Salt Lake in a match-up of the league's best teams, with Aurelien Collin providing the difference with a header goal that gave Kansas City a 1-0 victory at Livetsrong Sporting Park.

The 1-0 scoreline doesn't do justice to the way Sporting KC controlled the match. They flustered Real Salt Lake's normally composed midfield and the Sporting defense continued their stingy ways, holding the normally dangerous RSL attack to just one shot on goal, the first shot on goal allowed by Sporting KC in three matches.

Real Salt Lake was without injured star midfielder Javier Morales and fellow midfield veteran Ned Grabavoy, but those absences do nothing to take away from the way Sporting KC controlled the match. RSL finished the match with the edge in possession stats, but only after Sporting closed out the match content to let Real Salt Lake knock the ball around far from the attacking third.

The victory improved Sporting KC to a league-best 6-0, which now gives the team an eight-point lead atop the Eastern Conference. The loss dropped West-leading Real Salt Lake to two points ahead of San Jose, with the Earthquakes holding a game in hand.

Here are the match highlights:


What did you think of the match? Starting to believe Sporting KC is a championship-caliber side? Still not convinced because RSL was missing Morales and Grabavoy? Starting to think about booking some hotel rooms in Kansas City for MLS Cup?

Share your thoughts below.

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40 Responses to Collin header helps lead unbeaten Sporting KC past RSL

  1. Mouf says:

    Hope Espinoza isn’t one of the overaged in the Olympics, truly one of the best box to box midfielders in the league right now, and he has been keeping his tackles more controlled, while still being very agressive and rough

  2. jim b says:

    Kc completely dominated that game. Fun game to watch.

  3. truth says:

    so didnt Olave technically take a “dive” that resulted in taking a goal off the board? :)
    if attackers are going to get punished for it, shouldnt defenders when it does in fact change the score line?

  4. jim b says:

    Couldn’t agree any more. He absolutely took a dive and stole a goal that should have been awarded. What’s unfortunate is that other than that blatant dive, Olave put on one of the most impressive defensive displays I’ve ever seen in MLS. He’s clearly a better player than having to resort to diving

  5. Hincha Tim says:

    I have to disagree with your opinion that “Real Salt Lake was without injured star midfielder Javier Morales and fellow midfield veteran Ned Grabavoy, but those absences do nothing to take away from the way Sporting KC controlled the match”. Not understanding that those two absences were key to why RSL was having trouble dealing with SKC’s pressure is to not understand RSL. There is no one better in the league in controlling the ball under pressure than Morales and Grabavoy. Instead RSL was relying on a 19 year old and a rookie to be key players in that most important battle of tactics. Put a healthy Javier Morales and Grabavoy in and take out two of SKC’s best players and tell me the result would not have been different.

    That said, RSL was outcoached and outplayed for the players that were on the field. They could have controlled the ball more but chose to keep kicking it long in hopes of sprining Espindola. And Saborio had a stinker of a game. Credit goes to SKC for a well played game, but I believe when RSL is full strength that it will be a different story.

    (SBI-Hey Tim, where you been? Was thinking about you recently, wondering if your job had taken you to some new locale.)

  6. Sam says:


  7. timmytwoshoezzz says:

    Does SKC not have a shirt sponsor?

  8. jcbata says:

    No, they do not. I’m not sure they have made it a priority.

  9. sciroccer says:

    You can make excuses all you want for RSL but there is none, truth is they didnt play their style of play at all- IF THE REAL RSL HAD SHOWN UP, SKC would have lost. Credit to Nat, and Nick for a good game. Everyone else a big F for their complete lack of thinking! That is the worst performance, and the most sick I have felt about my team! This is a big reason I hate the unbalanced schedule, oh yeah, and that ref sucked! He missed a lot of calls on both sides of the ball. Congrad’s SKC fans, your team actually showed up!

  10. sam says:

    Showing up is part of being a good team. It doesn’t matter how good you could/should have been, what matters is how bad you actually WERE. Sporting has shown up 6 games in a row, no excuses, no losses, 1 shot on goal allowed. SKC proved it is the better team.

  11. morry says:

    Luis Gil is not 19, he is not a rookie, and I didn’t see RSL relying on him to be a key player.

    They were dominated, plain and simple- if you think it is easy to keep a team away from your box for 90 minutes, you are insane and if you think it is easy to do for 300+ minutes then you don’t know football. SKC isn’t the team people thought they were, they have a defense as well.

  12. morry says:

    did you even consider that their is a team playing on the other side? The diamond didn’t match up with the 4-3-3 with speedy wingers who can get back and defend in numbers. RSL is a great team but their not “showing up” has as much to do with the 11 in blue as it does the 11 in whatever color you are calling it these days.

  13. Patrick W. says:

    We killed it last night. Period. I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!

  14. Kevin says:

    Not thinking about hotel rooms, I have my house. I have starting wondering if season ticket holder get first chance at MLS Cup ticket though.

  15. Oog says:

    As an RSL fan I have to hand it to SKC. It was a beautiful defensive game that didn’t allow RSL any quarter. Disappointed that we didn’t get better chances, but hey, that’s soccer. Hopefully RSL will get the lead out of their butts and start playing more aggressively like we did the last 10 minutes.

  16. A wise man once says:

    They need to be sponsored by KC Masterpiece.

  17. Neruda says:

    I had to miss the game and as an RSL fan was bummed to see the scoreline but not shocked. Playing in KC with a great crowd against a complete team in Sporting was going to be hard to win. I was hoping for a draw and not marking an arial threat like Collin was a mistake Kreis will be harping on to correct.

    RSL has another tough game in SJ but it’s one they should bounce back and do much better in.

  18. jp992751 says:

    You are right Luis Gil isn’t 19 he is 18. He wasn’t referring to Gil as being a rookie he clearly states a 19 year old (Gil although he is really only 18) and a rookie (Sebastian Velasquez). Both played an important role and both were largely ineffective. Not taking away anything from SKC they outplayed RSL but the game MIGHT have been different with experienced players like Ned and Javi.

  19. wasatchsc says:

    AS a ReAL fan. The reason we didn’t play our game is we didn’t have the time on the ball. SKC had 6 extremely athletic players chasing the ball for 90+ minutes until it was stolen. I have never seen that much pressure so high and for so long before. Props to SKC fit, fast and physical very impressed.

  20. Mike in Missouri says:

    Just wait until SKC starts playing well. Our offense is still only playing at about 50% of potential right now.

  21. Hincha Tim says:

    To say that the diamond didn’t match up with the 4-3-3 with speedy wingers is not necessarily true. RSL’s back four did fine defensively controlling SKC front line. The game was lost by RSL’s inability to hold possession in their midfield in the face of SKC’s high pressure. This had less to do with the formations than that two of the players in RSL’s midfield at who’s feet this key responsibility would fall to were not Javier Morales and Ned Grabavoy, two of RSL’s (and the league’s) most influential players and who are cornerstones for implementing RSL’s system. These two players have in the past and could have dealt with SKC pressing. But they were not playing. Luis Gil, 18 years old, and Christian Valesquez, a rookie, were who occupied these two crucial midfield positions for RSL, and who RSL was relying on to accomplish the tall task of breaking SKC’s pressure. Their relative lack of quality and experience in comparison to Morales and Grabavoy was clearly evident and a key to RSL’s troubles. It was probably a little naive of Kreis to think that they would be up to the task, but at the same time, it gave these two young players valuable experience for down the road.

  22. Clark says:

    I have to chuckle about the Johnny-Come-Lately Sporting fans, 6-0 and you guys are suddenly anointing yourselves the best team in the league, one of the greatest teams ever assembled. Your chorus of unknowledgeable fans is comical. Sorry, if you understand any thing about football its that a high pressure, low-skill, long ball game can work for a while, but it will eventually become exposed, your team will get injured and tired. Looking at your 18 and the quality of the team you guys fielded last night, you simply do not have enough on the ball quality and luck to sustain that type of winning the entire season. You lose one guy, Zusi and you don’t have another person in the 18 that can deliver a decent ball. The guy is responsible for six of your nine goals this year, eight of your nine have been off of set pieces, simply put your offense(what little you have)doesn’t score off the run of play. If this were a two leg series I would be salivating for the return leg at Rio Tinto with our full team. But go ahead, gloat for a bit and hide in the Eastern conference, you guys will fade, I promise.

  23. hogatroge says:

    What got killed, who’s “We,” and should I notify the authorities?

  24. hogatroge says:

    As a Dynamo fan, I’m getting worried about playing SKC thrice this year.

    I must say, though, that RSL had a stinker of a match. I’d put SKC at #1 in the power rankings (would have a few wks ago), but it’s a shame there will probably not be a rematch this year (unless it’s in the MLS Cup).

  25. mouf says:

    them are fighting words in KC…

  26. mouf says:

    you should check out who has the highest number of completed passes in a game this year..
    this was the first game of the season SKC was out possessed, and I credit quite a bit of that at RSLs attempt to keep the ball, which only resulted in passing amongst your defense.

  27. RoryD says:

    “Simply put, your offense doesn’t score off the run of play”…says the guy whose team failed to score last night and only managed one shot on target. I also wonder how many sporting matches you have actually seen, because you certainly have not described their style of play accurately at all. I have no clue where you got the idea that KC likes to play the long ball.

    Sporting have been in great form since the middle of last year, it is not a fluke that they are top of the league at this stage in the season.

    I think it is funny that you speak in absolutes, like it is a certainty that their players will get injured or tired, or that it is a certainty that their form will fade. You come off as a bitter loser, grow up and accept that RSL were beaten by a better team last night.

  28. Clark says:

    The game you speak of is a statistical aberration, your opponents were playing with ten men from the 14th minute forward due to a red card. No kidding you get plenty of completed passes with 11 on 10 for almost 80 minutes. We aren’t the same kind of team, you guys aren’t like us, don’t attempt to compare because there is no comparison in quality between our two teams.

  29. Clark says:

    Rory, you don’t know the game, it is really evident from both the Sporting stats and from seeing several of their games that they play long. You guys had 23 open play crosses last night, you had 22 against Dallas, 19 against LA. That is how you guys play, it isn’t innovative or creative, just embrace it and move on.

    I like how you try and turn around my analysis of Sporting into a critique of RSL. We were poor last night, we have been poor before and we’ll be poor again in the future. That’s football, you should know that because you know so much about the game, teams sometimes don’t tick. Originally, I was merely making fun of your idiot, know-nothing fans of whom you appear to be in cadre after your no long ball claim. No bitter loser here bro, just a simple critique of boring, uncreative football.

  30. JRP says:

    He didn’t dive. He just fell. He isn’t that kind of a player. He just fell. It was a goal and should have been counted as such but Olave doesn’t dive.

  31. JRP says:

    I am an RSL homer and I don’t know that you can say that. SKC was hungry. They wanted it more. They outplayed RSL.
    They are the real deal. I didn’t believe it before.
    RSL didn’t show up. But that is their own fault. You can’t say anything in defense of RSL’s play. They simply sucked and were schooled for 94 minutes.
    SKC for president.

  32. JRP says:

    Crowds don’t phase RSL. We have played in Costa Rico and Mexico without pause. What beat us last night was hard work. SKC put in the work while Kyle and crew looked like they were phoning it in.

  33. Jim says:

    Fans talking positively about their team…what a shock. I saw a lot of smack being talked by RSL fans this week, so it shouldn’t be surprising, but then you know so much about soccer you must be Sir Alex himself. Since when is crossing the ball from the wings after a good overlapping run playing “the long ball”? It is pretty common in England these days. And, while I obviously don’t have the tremendous depth of soccer knowledge you do, the last time I checked the most important stat in soccer was goal differential. Through seven games RSL has scored 11 and given up 5…SKC has scored 9 and given up 1. SKC’s differential of 8 Is the highest in the league right now and that is why they are winning. You see the fact that they are scoring on set pieces as a negative…I think you are wrong. With the same offense, minus Bravo, we scored the second most goals in the league last year in the same system. You don’t have to think we’re elegant…but we score far more than we let in…a winning combination.

  34. chad says:

    if you read this blog often, you know ives, et al don’t give much respect to the teams in between the coasts…at least he gave the kfc sporks some love. i agree very much with your point.

  35. MJC says:

    Unknowlegable? You are the one who’s ignorance is on display and comically so.
    To call KC’s style, high pressure low skill long ball shows you’ve no knowlege of KC’s style at all.

    At least you got the high pressure part right. I wouldn’t expect you with your impressive “football” knowlege to recognize the Dutch system. But as employed by SKC it involves high pressure, excellent on the ball skills and what I find most amusing in your assessment is the term “long ball” which SKC avoids like the plague. They play a possession game. You know where you maintain possession…look it up!

    So you’ll excuse me if I take your impressive analysis with a grain of salt, coming as it apparently does form a, and I absolutely hate this term but in your case it seems to apply, “butt hurt” sore loser.

    That being said for the rest of the RSL fan base I have to extend props. Except for this guy you all have been knowlegable and very good to talk with unlike so many other fanbases which Clark would fit into nicely.

  36. MJC says:

    Could you possibly be more ignorant? Really the depth of your lack of knowlege is breathtaking. Do you know what a cross is? As defined at; link to
    It is – The delivery of a ball from a wide position to a teammate in or around the penalty area. The aim of a cross is to provide a goalscoring opportunity. Wingers and fullbacks are the most common exponents.

    Now a long ball is an attempt to move the ball down the field (pitch for you euro snobs which, I’m just guessing here but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you are one)usually from your defensive end to the your offensive end of the field.

    Now I can see how you could mistake the two, no I’m lying really I can’t.

    SKC plays a possession game usually moving the ball via the wings and crosses in the offensive half of the field for their big forwards who play well in the air. You can call that long ball if you like but to any “knowlegable” soccer fan the term long ball means something else.

    Given you ignorance and tone I’m just going to go ahead and call you what you are, a common garden variety internet troll.

  37. Neruda says:

    So RSL got outplayed and unfortunately I didn’t see it so I can’t comment on the game other than to say RSL had a big challenge on the road and I’m bummed they lost but still believe they are a top team in MLS that should do much better against San Josowski.

  38. KarlthewonderYak says:

    Top marks for using the word “thrice.”

  39. RSL Fan says:

    I don’t think I have ever seen a team play that “hard.” Props to SKC.

    However, there is no way that they can keep that up the entire year, especially during summer in the heat. It gets hot in Kansas, right? I predict a significant downturn once it gets hotter, and opposing teams scoring once KC runs out of gas at the end of games.

    That said, lets talk when, and if, RSL meets SKC again this year.

  40. aletheist says:

    I hate to pile on, but I almost laughed out loud at the statement that “eight of your nine have been off of set pieces, simply put your offense(what little you have)doesn’t score off the run of play.” SKC has scored 9 goals in 6 games–fourth best average in MLS so far. Only 3 of those goals have been on set pieces–2 on corners, 1 on a free kick–so 6 have come in the run of play. Just to be clear, an open play cross is not a set piece any more than it is a long ball.