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Opara’s stoppage-time goal lifts Sporting KC over ten-man RSL

IkeOparaCelebratesGoalSportingKC1-RSL (USATodaySports)


SANDY, Utah– With Matt Besler recalled to the U.S. Men’s National Team, Sporting Kansas City defender Ike Opara took full advantage of his starting opportunity.

Opara scored on a header deep into stoppage time as Sporting KC ran out victors over Real Salt Lake, 2-1, on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL played the final 24 minutes of the match with ten men, after defender Chris Wingert was shown a second yellow card and was sent off.

Opara, who was thrust into the starting role after Besler was called up to the U.S. Gold CUp squad, took full advantage of the start to finish off a Zusi pass to clinch the victory.

“It was just a great ball by (Graham) Zusi,” Opara said. “We had a bunch of guys attacking it and I had to go up and get it. I was due for one.”

The physical nature of the game won out, as accurate passing wasn’t on display with 26 total fouls called between the two sides. The tone was set early when a tough head-to-head challenge between Chris Wingert and Kei Kamara resulted in the RSL defender receiving a yellow card in just the 3rd minute.  Wingert appeared to launch himself into Kamara and the two knocked heads.

Just ten minutes after Sooney Saad nearly gave Sporting KC the lead, Robbie Findley took advantage of a Jimmy Nielsen mistake to put RSL on top. In the 56th minute, Nielsen came off his line to catch a floated free kick, but the Sporting KC goalkeeper let it slip through his hands, where Findley headed it across the line to the delight of the 19,832 in attendance.

A physical game between the two first place sides in both conferences deserved a dramatic ending. In the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time, Opara rose highest off a corner kick, heading past RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella for a crucial Sporting KC road win as they continue to stay atop the Eastern Conference.

The referee’s performance, and the lengthy amount of stoppage time that allowed Opara’s winner, brought out a post-game tirade from RSL head coach Jason Kreis, upset at the red card decision as well as the seven minutes of stoppage time.

“I just watched the replay and I wanted to come in with facts not opinions of what I saw or what I think I saw – I needed to watch it again,” Kreis said. “It’s a poor decision, an extremely poor decision against us. He [Wingert] barely touches the player, and he [Soony Saad] falls down. Now we’re picking up a second yellow card when there were multiple players on their team and weren’t picking up yellow cards for the same exact actions – pulling shirts, stopping counter attacks in the first half.

“The level of consistency was the lowest I’ve seen from a referee in MLS. And again, I don’t want to belabor the point about the referee being poor. He is going to be poor. It’s his 14th match of his entire career. The referee, in a sold out stadium, in a first place versus second place matchup, it’s the wrong game for him to make his 14th MLS game.”

Sporting KC Head Coach Peter Vermes felt that the corner kick was fair when asked about it after the game.

“Well it was five minutes, what he put up first, then they had the stoppage when the guy went down,” referring to Javier Morales who was fouled.  “So I think they added the extra time for that stoppage when the player was down.  That’s why I think they added that.”

Vermes was impressed at his squad’s dedication and fight, faced with the challenge of coming to Rio Tinto and playing the league leaders.

“We knew coming in here it was going to be a difficult match.  We just needed to keep going and going and going.  There’s not a lot of teams that go on the road and try and press high up the field like we did tonight.  I thought that was a really good quality that took them out of their flow a little bit which helped us, I think, over the course of the game.”

Goalscorer, Soony Saad, echoed his coach’s comments, describing the hard-fought result.

“It was a tough game to get into.  I think the first couple of minutes we couldn’t even develop a rhythm, a couple of injuries, a couple of fouls.  I felt like we stuck it out.  Even though we went down a goal we were able to recover and we were playing smart going at their left back because he had a yellow card.  He got a red card and we were able to tie it and be patient enough to push for the game-winning goal.”


  1. I’m a NYRB fan so no RSL homerism here, but I thought RSL got the raw end of the deal. I don’t think the officials deliberately made calls in SKC’s favor, it’s just the lack of consistency that did RSL in. When Opara came in and shoved the RSL player (can’t remember who) the ref should have carded him and/or blown the whistle to end the game. It was beyond out of control at that point if not well before.

    Side note, I think Jimmy Nielson is one of the top three keepers in MLS but his over the top reactions are hilariously dumb. Watch him flail to the ground after the goal against SKC goes in. Too funny.

    • At the league level, the reason this should matter to all MLS fans (not just RSL or SKC fans) is that this was billed by the league as the “Game of the Week,” and they had a big push to get neutral fans to watch this match…then PRO assigns a ludicrously inexperienced, unprepared and inept ref to this marquee matchup (the biggest game of the season to this point), knowing that SKC leads the league by a decent margin in fouls committed this year and that over the last several seasons games between SKC and RSL have tended to be very physical. It’s entirely predictable that this match needed a strong ref in the center of the field, who was not afraid of either team and would be firm in his decisions and consistent in the boundaries he set.

      Over the last two seasons, MLS has implemented new rules that penalize players and clubs for disputing officials’ calls. If the refs were getting it right and these disputes were frivolous, that would be one thing, but this ignores the fact that the officials themselves are causing these conflicts by sucking at their jobs…and yet, week after week, there they are, continuing to work these matches.

      As fans of MLS in a broad sense, it’s time to call on the league, on Don Garber, on Sunil Gulati, on everyone we can think of to pressure PRO to acknowledge that the problem isn’t just players and coaches being upset when calls go against them, or fans being too biased, but that there is a clear, persistent and seemingly worsening problem with the officiating. We as fans deserve better. Games shouldn’t be decided by referees, they should be the result of what the players do on the field. If players can be retroactively held accountable via the Disciplinary Committee, why is there no similar mechanism to review referees’ performances and hold them accountable for not officiating in a satisfactory manner?

  2. So sick of Kreis and Co. talking about SKC playing physical as if the ref and physical play is the only reason they lost the game. Apparently RSL was the only team playing soccer according to Kreis and Borchers post-game comments. Ridiculous, I saw plenty of attempts to play attacking soccer by SKC, they were however not very sharp. Passing the ball out of bounds numerous times is uncharacteristic. They didn’t bunker and didn’t back down from RSL’s physical play. RSL is not Barcelona and they need to be a bit more humble. Wingert set the stage for a physical game 6 seconds into the match. I do hope these two teams play again post season.

  3. What is Kreis babbling about? He should be upset at Wingert for committing that ridiculous foul right at the beginning of the game. Could have been a straight red for ignoring the ball completely and throwing your shoulder into a player’s face.

  4. As big of an RSL and Kreis fan as I am, RSL had absolutely nothing to complain about that game. I’m disappointed in the coaching staff. Wingert could have easily been sent off in the first minute on a straight red and committed many more fouls throughout the game. The last foul was a blatant breakaway to the corner foul. He had to get a second yellow that game; he fully deserved it. Plus, the 7 extra minutes were fully justified. Let’s focus on what a great game it is and how RSL is playing rather than whining about officiating that was justified.

    • Its nice to know that there are actual soccer/football fans who understand the game.

      I truly hope as an SKC fan, I would be able to look at the situation in the same light, if this were my team, and that is what I would strive to do.

      Big ups to you, my friend.

    • You are right, it is hard to be objective as a fan. I am biased towards RSL. With that said, going for a header in the first minute in not a red card. Wingert clearly lost sight of the ball and the collision was extremely hard. But it probably hurt him as much as Kamara. So why if it is a yellow card to Gil and Wingert, is it nothing for Rosell and Zusi in the first half? Why is the scissor challenge straight from behind from Rosell not a Red? Why can Opara get a full running sprint on a dead ball and shove an RSL player right in front of the ref with no reaction at all? Why did Rosell or Collin not get cards for persistent infringement?

      Then you talk about 7 minutes being justified, are you serious? I don’t know how long you have been watching soccer, but 7 minutes of stoppage time is almost unheard of. Kamara stayed down injured for at least 3 minutes in the first half and there was only 4 minutes of extra time. There were no major injuries in the second half. The sending off happened quickly. At most there should have been 3 minutes of stoppage time. 5 was ridiculous. Then he added two more and you think that is justified because Morales got hurt on a challenge and stayed down for about 15 seconds?

      Be real, you are not an RSL or even neutral fan at all. You have to be an SKC homer. RSL fans feel robbed. Neutrals are just angry that the ref ruined a great game but all seem to see the injustice. Only SKC fans that are clearly biased can even try to make a case for that being anything other than biased officiating.

  5. Poor officiating ruined what was a great match to watch as a neutral. If you’re gonna send Wingert off on that 2nd yellow, how can you not do the same to Rossell for two similar type of fouls when he’s also on a yellow?

    Also, I don’t buy the logic that it was a just result as Wingert should have been sent off in the 1st half as every call should be judged on its own merits and a missed previous call shouldn’t enter into a referee’s decision.

    In any event, fun match-up to watch and great win by SKC to steal 3 pts at the death

    • It’s not really a question of a “missed previous call.” Each yellow card is judged of its own merits as well as what the player has been doing before (hence why refs will tell players how many times they’ve done similar fouls and that they’d better be careful). Wingert’s whole body of the game (including the early yellow, nearly red) plus the nature of the foul (breakaway to the corner) clearly indicated that a second yellow needed to be given. And this coming from a big RSL fan who grew up 5 minutes from the stadium (but of course the stadium wasn’t there at the time).

      • Wasn’t saying that Wingert didn’t deserve to go. I just thought that he shouldn’t have been the only one.

    • Just to clarify, not “at the death”, it was 3 minutes after the death of the game. The ref was going to let it keep going until his team scored.

      As for the second yellow for Wingert, you are correct that in a normal game that is an automatic yellow. However, the ref made it clear early in the game that that type of foul is not a yellow. He let SKC do it 3 times. As a player, you follow the rules that the ref sets. The ref made it clear that pulling a guy back to stop an attack in not a yellow. Then he changed his stance to send off an RSL player. If he gave all of the SKC guys the proper yellow cards then RSL fans would not have any issues. RSL would have finished with 10 and SKC 9 at the best. Proper officiated would have seen Rosell, Collin and Opara all sent off.

      • 7-5=2

        If you watch the replay, at 90 minutes, Morales goes down for 1:30 minutes. Foerster checks his watch, and play continues. At 95 minutes, a ball comes in and is cleared by RSL for a corner, the corner is taken, a goal is scored, and the whistle is blown after an ill advised chuck into SKC’s half.

        Your math is a bit off. You’re everything is a bit off. You’ll get over it.

      • If he has sent off Weigert, as the laws of the game say he SHOULD have, in the 1st minute, the entire game would’ve been played at a more sane level. Of course, RSL would still have probably lost. And Kreis would still be whining. He has a nasty tendency to go all Alex Ferguson when he doesn’t get his way.

        BOTH teams took advantage of a weak referee who wasn’t able to control the match. Did it ruin the game? Probably. But it wasn’t ‘one-sided.’ Both teams were excessively physical. SKC plays a high-tempo pressure game, so they naturally commit more fouls than most teams. It’s not always a question of physicality as it is commitment to press outright.

      • And I should add, added time is the MINIMUM the referee shall add. If time is wasted DURING added time, the referee is entirely free to add additional time to the original amount.

        And that was the case in this match.

  6. The focus on the refereeing situation is disguising what may be the real takeaway from this: we all just watched 2 marquee MLS teams, each so highly touted and proud of themselves for their styles of play, got together and go literally in the very first minute straight into a physical grudge match and foul fest, before the referee had done anything more than blow the whistle for the kick-off.

    So much for playing “an attractive brand of soccer” and showing the rest of the league how it’s done…

  7. Ridiculous refereeing.

    The article manages to whitewash all the problems. Scored in the 7th minute of stoppage time… when only 5 were given with no events that would warrant the addition of more. There was nothing exciting about that ending. It was such a disgrace to the game that the RSL coaching staff had to surround the officials to protect them … from the RSL players.

    Chris Wingert was sent off for a foul that SKC committed 3 or 4 times with no punishment–a couple that didn’t even involve a foul being called. To send him off while simultaneously allowing far worse to go unpunished is inexcusable.

    Aurelio Collins and Uri Rosell should both have been ejected at a minimum for committing professional fouls more egregious while on yellow (and for the sake of consistency let’s just say a foul is a foul and not get into the merits of the Wingert “foul” which as Kreis alluded to was a pretty sad flop).

    Or the referee talking to the RSL player during the deadball when Ike Opara comes running in and shoves him. How… I mean seriously how in the h*ll is that not at least a yellow. A guy shoves another guy hard while he’s being talked to by you and you do nothing?!?!?

    Ike Opara walked away with a huge smile on his face. He knew he wasn’t getting in trouble and could do what he wanted.

    Saborio was abused with no repercussions. A journalist actually asked Kreis if he would consider sitting Saobrio in matches involved SKC because of the risk of injury.

    Pathetic. Just a godd**m pathetic joke of a match–second worst officiating performance I can remember in league history.

    • I think that you summed up my feelings nicely. I would only add, that if this match was in another country, I would just regard it as a fixed match.

      • In many cases you’d probably be right.

        I don’t know if this guy was afraid or what the deal was, but giving him that game with only (15?) professional games under his belt as a referee is ridiculous.

        He wasn’t prepared. He wasn’t able to cope. He was very one-sided in his delivering of punishments–whether he intended to be or not is obviously not something we can’t speak to–but the statistics speak for themselves. RSL went into half time with 3 yellow cards to SKC’s 0 despite RSL dominating the play and SKC being forced into a plethora of reckless and dangerous tackles that somehow went unpunished.

        SKC lead the league in fouls committed–before last nights game they had 33 more fouls committed than the nearest playoff-bound team (MLS).

      • Oh now we are talking about match fixing? Come on guys, we are better then that. The reffing wasn’t great and he lost control in multiple cases BUT the fact is the SKC outplayed RSL. Doesn’t mean that SKC is the better team, they just wanted it more that day.

      • SKC outplayed RSL? Please rewatch the match and tell me that again! RSL clearly won the first half and even looked better a man down, until stoppage time, which was when RSL looked extremely tired. However, there is no way you can say RSL was outplayed in this match. It was an ugly match marred by a referee who had no idea what he was doing…

        Concerning max fixing, why can’t it be discussed? Because we are the U.S??? Give me a break. It happens all over the world and to assume that it could never happen here is sheer arrogance.

      • LOL you clearly didn’t watch the match First half SKC had better chances, had better stats, more possession, higher passing accuracy, etc…

        and once RSL went down a man they sat back and took a beating with only one real attempt.

    • Okay, please take the RSL homerism down a notch. There are some key factors your post is neglecting:

      First, RSL should have been playing the entire game with 10 men. Wingert’s foul on Kamara was reckless and needlessly endangered an opponent’s safety. Honestly, I think a more experienced ref who might be less afraid of sending off a player in the first minute would have done so.

      Second, Collin’s yellow card was extremely soft and even the RSL commentators agreed. Handing him a second would have been incredibly harsh.

      Third, Wingert’s second yellow was for pulling down a player on his way to goal. The foul I think you’re referring to from Uri was not so flagrant because Javier Morales was moving away from goal at the time. A foul? Absolutely. A second yellow? Much more debatable.

      Fourth, Morales was on the ground for over a minute after that foul. Remember, the fourth official’s indication is only a minimum of the amount of stoppage time. The ref can add to it at his discretion, and considering Morales spent a decent chunk of those five minutes on the pitch, the ref was justified in adding more time.

      All of that being said, yes, Opara getting away without a yellow card for shoving Nat Borchers is indefensible. The ref had lost control of the game by that point, but I would contend he made that bed for himself when he didn’t send Wingert off in the first minute. Set the tone for a very nasty game.

      • Only problem is that consistency was not upheld. Opara should have seen second yellow and red for the obvious push while ref was in convo with a player. collins should have seen secondyelloow and red for numeroius fouls some of which never even received a whistle. Make up for not showing a red? are you kidding?! either call it or don’t but there are no make-ups. The game lacked consistency and that is the true shame of it all.

    • There is a lot of bad officiating in MLS, but this was not bad or inconsistent. It was completely one sided. You are right, if there was sports betting on MLS in the United States, there should be an investigation into match fixing. There is bad and then there is corrupt. That officiating was not just inconsistent, the ref clearly wanted SKC to win for some reason and made it happen.

      SKC fans, when you talk about straight red card challenges, the Rosell one on Morales that was a scissor challenge from behind is the only one in the match that falls in that category. Both he and Collin deserved at least 4 yellow cards in that game. Gil and Wingert got yellows for pulling guys back to stop attacks yet SKC made the exact same challenges 3 times and did not get yellows. The SKC players instigated fights and shoved RSL players multiple times after fouls and even repeatedly put their hands on the ref. It was completely ridiculous.

      What it comes down to is that RSL got robbed, not by an overmatched ref but by a biased one. He got intimidated by the SKC players and clearly favored one team throughout. I was at the game and to be honest, the ref is lucky that this game was in the United States and not Europe or South America. He would not have made it out of the stadium alive in many other places. It was criminal officiating. I actually thought that Kreis was restrained in his comments, to say that the ref was just in over his head. It was worst than that.

  8. What kreis fails to mention is that wengert should have seen straight red in the first minute. I’m sure the ref went in at halftime and saw the elbow that wengert threw on kamara and was looking very carefully at wengert. The foul on saad was light but it was professional and an opportunity to then send off wengert. Seven minutes was a gift but the additional time was to adjust for rsl injuries so it is what it is.

    • So you didn’t actually listen to Kreis… but claim you did. Because he said it was a very light foul that the official let go numerous times for SKC and then just randomly decides to eject an RSL player… because why the heck not?

      His argument was that if it isn’t a foul for SKC throughout the game how is it a second yellow offense for his guy?

      • I never claimed to hear his press conference, I was at work. All I’m saying is I believe there was an element of a makeup call to the second yellow as the first foul was a straight red. You can’t argue that, it was a deliberate attempt to injure. Unfortunately, letting wengert stay in the game with only a yellow set the tone for a game that the referee lost control of. I totally agree that opera should have been carded for the shove. That was bs.

      • Word.

        I read your comment, “Kreis fails to mention..” as reference to his entire press conference.

      • Watch the replay again, Wingert’s got his eyes on the ball trying to win it, he’s not lining up the player with a “deliberate attempt to injure”. Yellow was the right call there.

      • why did he leave his feet with the ball 20 feet over his head, 10 yards past him, straight into Kei’s head?

        you cant even check like that in hockey, he made no attempt at the ball, and leaving the feet is telling.

      • You must have watched a different replay. There is no way that shouldn’t have been a straight red.

      • If Wingert was really tracking the ball, he wouldn’t have left his feet to try to win it…seeing as how it landed some 10 yards behind him.

        Should have been a straight red. Period.

      • You are a moron. I’m watching the replay right now. He is looking right at Kamara, its not even close to an attempt for the ball which lands WAY in front of them, far from his reach.

    • Yes, Wingert should have been gone in the first half. Kreis should thank the ref for allowing him to stay on an extra 45. That foul was sheer viciousness.

  9. Really disappointed in Kreis, whining about fouls and stoppage time sets a terrible example for the team and fans. I expect better from him.

    • He’s not whining when he’s right. This was the worst officiated match I’ve ever seen in MLS. The ref lost control of the match 8 seconds into the game. He missed multiple handballs in the box (at least one against RSL and at least 2 against SKC). This article doesn’t even mention that right before the final kick, Collin put his hands on Nat Borchers’ face (which is an automatic suspension according to a new MLS rule this season, and the Disciplinary Committee will surely rule on this week) and immediately after, Ike Opara blatantly shoved Borchers – neither got called, even though both are clearly punishable offenses. Instead of calling anything on either of them, Foerster gave SKC a goal kick that led to a goal – 7 minutes into 5 of stoppage time. Wingert’s second yellow was given for something SKC players were doing to RSL players, particularly Javi Morales, all night long without even getting fouls called, let alone yellow cards given. And Graham Zusi threw a ball at an RSL player in frustration after a free kick was awarded outside SKC’s box in the first half – right in front of the ref – and no card was shown. So Kreis’ complaints were legitimate. Foerster should not ref games anymore – this isn’t the first game he’s officiated this season that got out of hand early on and ended up being way rougher than it should have been. I’m amazed nobody got seriously injured in this match…especially the way SKC was playing hack-a-Javi all night.

      I was really disappointed in SKC. They’re a good enough team, they shouldn’t have to behave like thugs, but they did to an alarming degree last night without much consequence. Zusi is one of the best players in MLS but last night he couldn’t complete a cross until the last play of the game. I’d been really excited to watch this match, but it ended up being the most frustrating match of soccer I’ve ever seen, and that’s primarily Matthew Foerster’s fault for not controlling the match and for being inconsistent in what he called against both teams.

      • Zusi threw the ball at the ground, that’s not the same as throwing it at the player. That one comment shows how biased you are and not even paying attention to facts. Hand balls? You are the first to talk about hand balls. What about the denied PK for Beiler when he was taken down in the box, which even MLS has brought up.

        SKC behave like thugs? less then 10 seconds into the match Wingert smashed Kei hard enough he had to go have an MRI done (he tweeted pics of it). They set the tone for the match, against one of the most physical teams in the league. RSL asked for it, and SKC responded appropriately.

    • Oh my goodness, you need to have your eyes checked. I don’t think some of you actually watched this game. That was the worst refereeing ever. “Green” reffs have no business in a game like this one. To say that Kreis is a whiner is absolutely ridiculous. You obviously don’t know anything about the integrity of Kreis, who is typically pretty stoic when it comes to such things. Opara shoving Borchers right in front of the reff was so blatant and card worthy, but the smirk on Opara’s face said it all. These reffs let SKC do whatever they wanted and they were the only reason SKC won this game. Take away the additional 2 minutes of stoppage time that shouldn’t have occurred and it’s a different story. It was a physical game that was completely devoid of consistency. SKC got away with one, for sure.

      • I know Kreis is known for CRYING. Multiple stories on with him whining and crying about refs if something doesn’t go in his favor.

        I will say this, sure RSL was missing some starters. But I think SKC deserves credit, playing away against a good team (who a week ago said they had so much depth that it didn’t matter if they had their starters or not, but now its all excuses), SKC was down its defender of the year, and lets be honest.. i think SKC played subpar. Yet they still were the better team. Before it went down to 10v11, SKC still controlled the stats and had the better chances. RSL only goal was gifted… SKC outplayed them and was the better team, and deserved 3 pts.

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