Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake to clash in MLS Cup Rematch

Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake meet on Saturday at Sporting Park for the first time since MLS Cup 2013 last December.

Saturday's match will be televised on 38 The Spot and SKCTV across the Midwest with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT. Additionally, ESPN 102.9 FM (English) and La Gran D 1340 AM (Spanish) will provide live broadcasts from Sporting Park.

Heading into week five, both teams currently sit in second place of their respective conferences with four games played. Real Salt Lake (2-0-2) remained unbeaten under new head coach Jeff Cassar by handing Toronto FC their first loss of 2014 last weekend, defeating the Canadian side 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium courtesy of goals from Alvaro Saborio (2) and Luis Gil.

Sporting KC also scored three goals in their last outing to secure a 3-2 road win over the Colorado Rapids. Graham Zusi had a goal and two assists in the victory, earning MLS Player of the Week honors, while Dom Dwyer's stoppage time game-winner was named MLS Goal of the Week on Friday.

Sporting KC edged out Real Salt Lake 7-6 in the longest penalty kick shootout in MLS Cup history last season, after a 1-1 draw through extra time. Of the 22 starters from MLS Cup, all but Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who retired two days after hoisting the Philip F. Anschutz trophy, have returned for the 2014 season.

Sporting KC is 5-1-3 (including playoffs) all-time against Real Salt Lake in Kansas City, with the lone loss in August of 2009, and hold an 8-5-3 advantage in the regular season series. The visitors will be without forward Robbie Findley (R knee) as well as the MLS Castrol Index's top-ranked player in 2014, Joao Plata (L hamstring), while Sporting Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong (neck strain) is also sidelined due to injury.

On Wednesday, five players from the two teams started for the U.S. Men's National Team in a 2-2 draw against Mexico. Sporting KC's Matt Besler and Graham Zusi earned caps in the international friendly alongside Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran. All are expected to be available for Saturday's match.

Fans are encouraged to participate in the "Recycle Your Game" initiative on Saturday by donating new and gently used soccer equipment at the designated collection bins located at each entrance into Sporting Park. Donated items will be given to youth soccer players in underprivileged communities and all fans that donate will receive a 10% off coupon for Sporting KC merchandise at Sporting Style locations on gameday.

Fans can follow @SKCGameday  on Twitter or visit for all in-game updates.