KANSAS CITY — For as little as Kansas City and Salt Lake see each other during the MLS season, there’s very little love lost between the two teams.
A preseason match between the two this season was called 10 minutes early because of the overly physical play. Their only regular season meeting this year came in July and was little more than a brawl that saw KC leave Rio Tinto Stadium with a win.
Saturday’s MLS Cup Final, which KC won in penalty kicks, wasn’t much better.
Kansas City came out with a chip on its shoulder and immediately went to work throwing off Real Salt Lake’s rhythm. Referee Hilario Grajeda allowed the play to be very physical most of the game. Combined with the freezing temperatures and only one game for both teams in the past 27 days, this year’s MLS Cup was a hard-fought but sloppy affair.
RSL found its rhythm in the second half and Alvaro Saborio scored an early goal to quiet the KC home crowd. But Sporting KC hero Aurélien Collin skied over Chris Schuler in the 72nd minute to tie things up and both teams exchanged body blows from that point through extra time and into PKs where it came down to a 10th penalty kick.
RSL substitute Lovel Palmer appeared to beat KC keeper Jimmy Nielsen but for the fourth time on the night, the woodwork was Nielsen’s best friend and Palmer’s goal pinged off the crossbar to leave Kansas City on top 7-6 on PKs for the MLS Cup win.