Sporting Kansas City traveled to Utah atop the Western Conference standings and with a nine-match unbeaten streak in all competitions.
The club protected the unbeaten streak, but fell out of first after a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night in Sandy, Utah. Sporting KC fell to second in the Western Conference, one point behind FC Dallas, which was victorious earlier in the day.
Sporting KC (8-4-9) didn’t generate much offense until Benny Feilhaber drew a foul in the penalty area early in the second half.
Feilhaber converted the ensuing penalty kick in the 59th minute, equalizing the match.
“We stole the ball, and played a good ball into Benny,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “(Luis) Silva came across and hit Benny from the side. It was simple, and Benny finished it. Both teams in the second half had a few chances here and there. One point for both teams was a fair result.”
Fans in Kansas City weren’t able to see Feilhaber’s goal. The Fox Sports Kansas City broadcast went off the air around the 53rd minute, and didn’t return until approximately the 80th minute. Sporting KC officials said thunderstorms in Kansas City on Saturday night caused the technical difficulties.
The action between the two longtime rivals picked up in the second half. Five yellow cards were issued, and Real Salt Lake manager Mike Petke was ejected from his club’s bench area. Sporting KC’s improved effort in the second half wasn’t an accident.
“The first half we didn’t put a lot of energy in and we weren’t as competitive as we needed to be,” Vermes said. “We played at a slow, easy tempo when we could’ve stepped it up.”
Injuries and national team duty forced Sporting KC to field a makeshift lineup, especially on the back line. Erik Palmer-Brown, Kevin Ellis and Saad Abdul-Salaam earned rare starts.
Real Salt Lake probed the Sporting KC defense late in the first half, and broke through in the 43rd minute when Silva scored from 18 yards out.
All things considered, though, Vermes was happy with the defensive effort.
“At times we were a little disjointed maybe in our line, but all in all they did a good job of being able to keep a shutout in the second half,” Vermes said. “It wasn’t easy.”
Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia continued his outstanding season with five saves. Sporting KC returns home to play host to Chicago on July 29.
Sporting Kansas City 1, Real Salt Lake 1, tie
Real Salt Lake
KANSAS CITY: Tim Melia; Seth Sinovic, Erik Palmer-Brown, Kevin Ellis, Saad Abdul-Salaam; Benny Feilhaber, Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza; Latif Blessing, Diego Rubio, Gerso Fernandes (Daniel Salloi, 80th).
REAL SALT LAKE: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Justen Glad, Danilo Acosta, Marcelo Silva; Jefferson Savarino, Sunny (Brooks Lennon, 72nd), Joao Plata, Albert Rusnák, Luke Mulholland; Luis Silva.
Kansas City: Feilhaber, 59th, penalty kick.
Real Salt Lake: Silva (Plata, Acosta), 43rd.
Shots on goal
Kansas City: Espinoza (unsporting behavior), 40th; Sanchez (unsporting behavior), 47th; Fernandes (unsporting behavior), 77th.
Real Salt Lake: Sunny (unsporting behavior), 53rd; Acosta (unsporting behavior), 56th; Beltran (unsporting behavior), 71st.
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant referee: Jason White
Assistant referee: Apolinar Mariscal
Fourth official: Daniel Radford