Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SANDY — Kyle Beckerman said Saturday's match with Sporting Kansas City was "the most boring game I've ever been a part of in my life."
With 34 fouls called, there was no rhythm to the match and Beckerman said he felt sorry for the sell-out crowd of 19,888 who paid money to see the match.
C'est la vie.
Ugly or not, Real Salt Lake got a second half goal from Nat Borchers and made it hold up gutting out a 1-0 victory, its fourth straight.
"Four games in a row we've really battled, that's been the one consistent. The guys have stuck together and worked extremely hard," said RSL coach Jason Kreis. "It wasn't the prettiest of soccer games, I think some of that has to do with the way the game was officiated and also tactically what Kansas City does well."
Beckerman didn't necessarily think the game was played all that physical, but that's the way referee Ricardo Salazar called it. Two months ago, RSL probably would not have won a match like that, but now it's just business as usual.
"It sends a message to the rest of the league if a brawl is going to break out and it's going to be a wrestling match, we can win it that way too," said Kreis.
For a team that was seemingly in the dumps a month ago after losing at Houston — its fourth loss in five games — RSL is very much in the hunt for a great seed for the MLS playoffs.
With Saturday's victory, Real Salt Lake moved past Dallas into third place in the Western Conference for the first time since May 22. Four straight victories will do that.
Throughout the first half, it didn't look as if RSL would have the quality to beat a Kansas City team tied for first in the East. The visitors came out and played high pressure right away, and RSL didn't deal with it very well.
"We just weren't good enough with the ball. We were really rushed in our decisions. We weren't calm enough," said Kreis.
RSL dodged a major bullet in the 24th minute when Nick Rimando made a point-blank kick save on a toe poke from Teal Bunbury. The half chance presented itself when Borchers completely misjudged a headed clearance attempt, with the ball falling right at the feet of Bunbury in traffic.
It was a frustrating first half for RSL for many reasons, including a 13-5 foul count and its own inability to string many passes together.
As effective as Kansas City was with its high pressure in the first half, though, Beckerman believes the players started to fatigue as the game wore on. That need to chase the game was compounded when Borchers headed home a Beckerman free kick in the 54th minute to put RSL ahead 1-0.
Kreis believed with taller players like Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler, Alvaro Saborio and Robbie Russell in the starting 11, RSL should have a big advantage with set pieces. That proved to be true as Beckerman lofted a perfectly weighted cross into a dangerous area in the box.
"It feels good to make a difference like that. All credit goes to Kyle for that ball he put in," said Borchers.
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