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Rimando heroics help Borchers goal stand as RSL wins battle vs. Sporting KC

RSLSKC (Getty)

In a match-up that could wind up being an MLS Cup Final preview, Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City played a physical match that left little doubt about two things.

There isn't that much separating two of the best teams in MLS, and those two teams really don't like each other.

On Saturday night, Sporting KC went to Rio Tinto Stadium and pushed the home team to the brink, going after RSL rather than sitting back. Sporting couldn't solve RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando though as the veteran keeper stopped every shot sent his way, helping a Nat Borchers header goal stand up in a 1-0 victory.

Rimando finished with five saves on the night for the shutout, his 12th of the season.

Borchers provided the winning goal, heading home a Kyle Beckerman free kick in the 54th minute.

“I believe that this team can win in multiple ways," RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. "I think it sends a message to the rest of the league that if a brawl is going to break out and it’s going to be a wrestling match, well, we can win that way too.”

It was a physical match that saw the teams combine for 34 fouls and four yellow cards on a night when referee Ricardo Salazar could have called several more fouls and issued more cards.

Sporting KC started the match well, pushing the RSL back-line, and even drawing a yellow card on converted left back Chris Schuler, who struggled to deal with Kei Kamara on the flank. Sporting KC couldn't turn that early possession into a goal though as Rimando dealt with every challenge well, including chances from Aurelien Collin in the 7th and 24th minutes.

“The difference in the first half was Nick (Rimando); he was excellent," Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes said. "He saved probably two, three very good chances, kept a clean sheet and kept them in the game in that perspective.”

Real Salt Lake broke through in the 54th minute after Collin fouled Andy Williams to set up an RSL free kick. Beckerman struck a perfect set piece that found a streaking Borchers, who had easily beaten Collin to the header for the only goal of the match.

“It was kind of funny. It was almost like Kyle and I drew it up like a play in basketball," Borchers said of his winning goal. "I just made sure I curled my run, he hit the perfect ball, and Jimmy Nielson’s in no-man’s land."

Sporting KC kept on pressing for the equalizer, but never could get past Rimando, who saved his best save for the 61st minute when he stopped a shot from KC defender Julio Cesar.

The loss was a disappointing one for Sporting KC, which certainly played well enough to come away from Rio Tinto Stadium with a point. The lost kept Sporting KC in second place in the East, while the victory helped Real Salt Lake move into third place in the Western conference after their fourth straight win.

“We were very good in the run of play," Vermes said. "I walk away thinking we played very well tonight and could have walked away with something more then zero points.

"But credit to Real, a good team, and I’m sure that if we keep playing the way we are, we will meet in the playoffs at some point.”


  1. If we’re playing the “should of” game, then you need to give RSL the goal from when Jimmy flopped, rolled around like he broke his leg, dropped the ball, then watched as Espindola rolled it into the back of the net.

  2. Link to the pic showIng the only point that matters, when the ball is kicked, that he is off. Course you also see the error by the linesman of being posistioned incorrectly. It was close, no doubt, but he was a step advanced and skc got one taken off the board bs LA for 1 even closer.

  3. Just reviewed both the Borchers goal and the Rimando dropped ball. As to the first: At no point from the telecast I saw can I say yes he was off-side or no he was not. perhaps someone saw a different angle?

    The ball dropped by Rimando was clearly a result of him being hit from behind by the KC player, watched it frame for frame and it is clear that the KC player intentionaly incresased the speed of his run to make contact. You can also see his intent from his eyes which are looking at the ball as he makes contact.

  4. The run of play was stopped by a whistle. There was no goal scored by KC. Unless you count scoring a goal when everybody stopped playing because the whistle was blown. That is not taking a goal off the board.

  5. yeah to say that RSL had an advantage of any of the calls last night is ridiculous! The majority of the SKC free kicks came from Espinoza gently sitting down on the turf after over running the ball. Questionable on Rimando losing the ball, perhaps, but it looked as though the SKC player ran into him from behind. Nielson is a flopper and should be suspended no question.

  6. Certain people on this board need to drop a certain conspiracy mentality that certain refs treat certain teams and certain players differently. Certainly!

  7. Was SKC the better team? Yes–my RSL friends tend to agree (though they won’t trade the win for anything). Was it a brutal, physical game? Yes. That’s fine. Do Omar Bravo and Jimmy Nielsen flop sometimes? Sure they do! No more than the average player coming from Europe/Mexico to the MSL, though. I’ll not mention Saborio here.

    But dear God. Was the refereeing horrific? Utterly inconsistent? Needlessly stringent, and suddenly “letting them just play”? Someone, PLEASE GOD, save us from MLS refs.

  8. Goal taken off the board by skc incorrectly and RSLs goal was clearly offside, neither memtioned in the write up… Tired calls going only to certain teams, refs have been awful to certain teams this year

  9. I don’t think anyone involved needs cheese or wine. Just a goal to count when a goal is scored.

    Ball was dropped…nothing was done by a SKC player to force it out of his possession. He lost possession and the ball was put in the net.

  10. And when Rimando dropped the ball the referee incorrectly stopped play saying the SKC player had knocked it out of his hand. He simply dropped it. Should have been 1-0 SKC. Another referee controversy for SKC as usual and it didn’t go their way – surprise, surprise.


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