Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City Report Card

Published: Sunday, July 21 2013 12:25 a.m. MDT

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Tactics: RSL's back line is massively depleted due to national team call-ups and injury. RSL relied heavily on veterans Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert to anchor the defense. Lovel Palmer started in place of Tony Beltran at right back and Aaron Maund stepped into the rotating door at right center back.

Chris Wingert drew a difficult mark with Kai Kamara manning the right side of KC's three-man frontline. The physical and speedy forward was a handful to be sure, but Saturday wasn't Wingert's first rodeo. Positioning can beat speed every time and Wingert is a master at positioning. As for physicality, Wingert gives as good as he gets. Wingert earned two yellow cards during the game to be sent off in the 66th minute. Minutes later, Kansas City made RSL pay for Wingert's mistake with a tying goal.

Nat Borchers needed to play out of his mind Saturday night to keep Sporting Kansas City's eager and talented front line from ripping into RSL's depleted back line and testing its untested keeper more than desired. Borchers did his best to do jus that, and it almost — almost was enough. He played a key role in Robbie Findley's go-ahead goal by distracting Jimmy Nielsen just enough to make him miss and he was key to RSL holding off KC's final onslaught to the point everyone thought RSL just might get out of this one with a tie. But in the end, Borchers is only one man and with only eight others left on the field after Wingert was sent off, it just wasn't enough.

Aaron Maund is pretty clear evidence that RSL has perhaps the deepest defensive bench in Major League Soccer. As the fourth string center back, Maund was very adequate filling in for Carlos Salcedo, who was filling in for Kwame Watson-Siriboe, who had filled in for Chris Schuler. But he's also a reminder of the importance of keeping concentration until the final whistle blows. He certainly may have been wondering what he was still doing on the field in the 97th minute after the referee had announced 5 minutes of stoppage time, but it was no excuse to lose his concentration as KC defender Ike Opara rubbed him off to ping the game-winning goal into the net over a flat-footed Maund.

Lovel Palmer played with tremendous heart Saturday, winning every 50-50 ball he challenged and creating a number of excellent opportunities out of the backfield. In a rare slip Saturday, his 66th minute attempted clearance skipped off his head and allowed it through into a box packed with Kansas City players where simple math made a KC equalizer an inevitability.

Abdoulie Mansally (SUB) came on to replace Wingert and shortly took advantage of his athleticism to beat Kansas City's defense down the left side to put the ball in a dangerous position. RSL didn't capitalize, but it was a reminder of both how deep RSL's bench is and of Mansally's past as a ball handler along the front line when he was with DC United.

Grade: B-
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