Major League Soccer

Real Salt Lake-Sporting Kansas City Preview

Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes bemoaned his side's lack of energy and quality as they prepare to host Real Salt Lake on Sunday.

Sporting suffered a first defeat when scoring first since June 19 against Minnesota United and followed that up with a second loss against strugglers Austin FC last time out.

The hosts and the Colorado Rapids remain just a point behind Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference but Vermes blasted his side's lack of energy in their last loss.

"The players are professionals and they have to find a way to start the game better," Vermes said.

"It's simple as can be. It was a mistake on the team's part and now they've got to fight for the next game.

"It's not tired legs at all. That's an excuse. What do you think the other teams have to do in this league?

"What do you think they do, change the whole entire team every game? No. Guys have to play in this kind of environment."

The visitors are two points back from the playoff spots in the Western Conference but went down 3-1 to fellow playoff hopefuls Portland Timbers in their last game - making it two consecutive losses.

However, heading into Decision Day, interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni concede he cannot find an immediate solution as his side rely on other results.

"I'd like to give you a magic solution," Mastroeni said. "I think there are decisions that are made on the field.

"It's about understanding where you are on the field and the players that are around you to make the best decision.

"The most important thing is looking at Kansas City and getting the three points. We have everything to play for. It's important the guys recover and have the right mindset."

Sporting Kansas City - Daniel Salloi

Daniel Salloi is tied for third in MLS with 24 combined goals (16) and assists (eight) this season.

Real Salt Lake - Albert Rusnak

Albert Rusnak scored his 11th goal of the season against the Timbers, surpassing his previous season-high of 10 goals in a single season with Real Salt Lake. His 11 goals are the second-most of any RSL player, second only to Damir Kreilach (15).

●Since defeating Real Salt Lake on penalties to win the 2013 MLS Cup, Sporting Kansas City has just four wins in 19 meetings with RSL (D6 L9, including playoffs). Only two of those wins came at home, a 2018 playoff victory and a regular season win in April 2017.

●Sporting Kansas City has lost consecutive matches for the first time since September 2020 defeats to Dallas and Orlando. The 3-1 defeat at Austin on Wednesday was just the third multi-goal defeat of the season for Sporting, the first of which came at Real Salt Lake, 3-1, on May 1.

●Real Salt Lake has lost consecutive matches for the first time since late August after a 3-1 defeat to the Timbers on Wednesday. It was the sixth time RSL has conceded three or more goals in a match since Pablo Mastroeni took charge on August 27, only FC Cincinnati (7) has allowed three goals in more matches in that time.

●Johnny Russell scored Sporting's lone goal against Austin on Wednesday, his 10th straight game with at least one goal contribution (11 goals, 3 assists). Russell is the sixth player in MLS history to contribute to a goal in 10 straight matches within a single regular season.

●Six of Real Salt Lake's last seven goals, including its 88th minute penalty against Portland on Wednesday, have been scored in the 80th minute or later. No team has scored more goals in the final 15 minutes of matches this season than RSL (18).

Updated November 5, 2021