Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City Report Card

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

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Rick Bowmer, Associated Press
Tactics: Jason Kreis stayed with the diamond midfield Saturday, posting Yordany Alvarez at holding center back in place of Kyle Beckerman, who is still out on national team duty. Javier Morales retained his position at attacking center mid and Luis Gil paired with Ned Grabavoy on the wings.

Ned Grabavoy was key to RSL's possession dominance, both because of his defense and his offensive mindedness. His work in the second half, particularly after Chris Wingert was sent off, to control the central midfield was key to keeping the game tied long enough to give RSL fans hope they might escape with a tie after going down a man. Sadly, Ike Opara's 97th minute goal put an end to that.

Javier Morales once again powered RSL's attack. With Jeff Attinella struggling with his long distribution and Kansas City's offense making it hard on their defensive line to play the ball out of back, the responsibility fell to Morales to keep possession in the midfield, which he did with tremendous skill and a little bit of wizardry. His free kick in the 56th minute made KC keeper Jimmy Nielsen miss enough for Robbie Findley to find the tipped ball with his head for RSL's go-ahead goal.

Yordany Alvarez found himself matched up with KC's DP, Claudio Bieler and erstwhile national team call-up Grahm Zusi most of the night. Consider Bieler's run on goals and Zusi's quality on the ball, one might have worried about Alvarez, who can be hot and cold. Good thing he was hot Saturday. His decisions were confident and his passing quite good. He's been working hard in training on keeping momentum in the midfield and Saturday showed he's making progress.

Luis Gil seemed to struggle most of the first half. His first cross had tremendous goal potential were it not for Gil's poor execution. His body language after that was a little crestfallen and his boneheaded yellow card in the 37th minute, issued for reaching out and grabbing a Kansas City player from behind, capped a half that Gil will be happy to forget. He was better during the second half, as he was much more confident on the ball and more active in the attack.

Khari Stephenson (SUB) Stephenson was brought on in place of Alvarez and most importantly the quality of defensive soccer in the midfield saw no lag. Unfortunately Stephenson never had the opportunity with a man down to use that cannon of a leg to test KC from distance.

Grade: B+
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