Rematch between Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake ends in draw

Sporting Kansas City was held to a scoreless draw on Saturday in an MLS Cup rematch with Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Jeff Attinella, making his fifth MLS start in place of the injured Nick Rimando, made a career-high eight saves as Sporting Kansas City outshot Real Salt Lake 20-5 with a 9-1 advantage in shots on goal.

Chance Myers returned to the lineup for Sporting Kansas City, making his 2014 debut following his recovery from a groin strain, and the Sporting KC defense lowered their season goals against average to 0.80 — tied for best in Major League Soccer with Real Salt Lake.

Also making his debut was Spanish midfielder Antonio Dovale, a second-half substitute, and Sporting KC has now used 22 different players through five weeks of the regular season.

Real Salt Lake attempted the first (2nd minute) and last (95th minute) shots of Saturday’s match, but was limited to only three other opportunities throughout the run of play.

Second-year striker Olmes Garcia sent his effort high of the crossbar from 20 yards out in the game’s opening moments while central defender Chris Schuler led the visitors with two shots on Saturday. His left-footed attempt in the 24th minute was smothered by Eric Kronberg, as was his header on the game’s final play.

The lone shot on goal of the game for Real Salt Lake came from the foot of captain Kyle Beckerman on a 45-yard strike that was on target and into the arms of Kronberg, who recorded his second clean sheet of the season and third of his MLS career.

The majority of Saturday’s action came in front of Attinella, beginning in the eighth minute with his save on Graham Zusi and then three minutes later when he did well to deny Dom Dwyer on a breakaway. Attinella added a superb stop to his highlight reel in the 27th minute, pushing Seth Sinovic’s dipping shot from outside the penalty area over the bar.

Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber forced another reaction save seven minutes later as Attinella dove to his right to keep out the well-struck volley. His final save of the first half came in the 42nd minute, darting 15 yards off his line to make a sliding stop on Paulo Nagamura near the right edge of the penalty area.

The second half started with signs of the same frustration for Sporting KC when Aurelien Collin’s header was straight at Attinella and easily held. Zusi then came close to putting Sporting KC ahead in the 51st minute, however his left-footed strike carried inches beyond the far post.

Sporting Kansas City finally found a way past Attinella in the 63rd minute only to see Dwyer’s tightly-angled attempt hit the post and the follow-up from Sal Zizzo blocked in front of the goalline by Nat Borchers.

The reigning MLS Cup champions were reduced to 10 men in the 83rd minute as referee Armando Villarreal sent off Oriol Rosell for his late challenge on Devon Sandoval. Sporting KC had one last chance to claim the full three points in stoppage time as Zusi unleashed a skipping shot from 25 yards out that earned Attinella his eighth save of the match, third most by a goalkeeper in MLS this season.

With the draw, Sporting Kansas City moves within one point of first place in the Eastern Conference while Real Salt Lake keeps its unbeaten record (2-0-3) under new head coach Jeff Cassar intact.

After five straight matches against Western Conference opponents to open the 2014 season, Sporting Kansas City will enjoy a bye in MLS Week 6 before playing host to the Montreal Impact on Saturday, April 19, at Sporting Park.

Sporting KC plays host to Real Salt Lake in MLS Cup rematch on Saturday

Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake meet on Saturday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., 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. 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 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 its 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.

For ticket information, visit or the Sporting Park box offices.

Sporting KC acquires 19-year-old Brazilian Igor Julião

Sporting Kansas City has acquired 19-year-old Brazilian defender Igor Julião on loan from Fluminense FC, the club announced on Friday.

A member of Brazil’s Under-20 Men’s National Team, Julião has been added to Sporting Kansas City’s roster and will occupy an international roster spot.

“Igor is a player that once we saw him at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, we really liked him. We scouted him for about six days and watched four of his games,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “We feel that he is a great, young talent and someone that will fit into our team with the way we like to play, particularly with how important the outside back position is to our team. We feel he will be a good addition to our group and at the same time, forge a relationship with Fluminense FC.”

“This is a new challenge for me,” Julião said. “I hope to learn a lot from this club and do everything I can to help them win another championship.”

Julião first joined Fluminense FC’s academy at age 8 in February 2003 and capped off his youth career by leading the club’s Under-20 side to back-to-back state championships in 2012 and 2013. He traveled to the United States for the 2013 Dallas Cup as Fluminense FC U19’s won Group C and reached the Super Group semifinals before falling to eventual champions Fulham FC in penalty kicks at the Cotton Bowl one year ago.

Most recently, Julião started all four games for the Fluminense FC U23’s at the 2014 Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Florida earlier this year, highlighted by a strong showing on the tournament’s final day with a goal and an assist in a 4-2 win over Toronto FC.

After nine years of development in their youth system, Julião made his debut in Campeonato Brasileiro Série A as a 17-year-old in August 2012. He made three appearances in Brazil’s top division during his first professional season as Fluminense FC won their fourth league title in the club’s 111-year history.

In August 2013, Julião broke into the starting lineup for Fluminense FC en route to 20 appearances for the senior squad last season. He started 14 league matches and made appearances in each of the team’s final 10 games of the Brasileirão. In his Fluminense FC youth and professional career, Julião played in a total of 379 games with 76 goals.

Julião was selected to Brazil’s Under-20 Men’s National Team for the 2013 South American Youth Championship in Argentina and made three appearances at the competition.

Julião is the third Brazilian native on Sporting Kansas City’s roster, along with midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Paulo Nagamura. Sporting Kansas City’s loan agreement with Fluminense FC for Julião extends through the end of 2014.

– Story from Sporting KC