Sporting KC tops Real Salt Lake to win MLS Cup
Aurelien Collin scored the equalizer in the second half, then drove home the deciding penalty kick to give Sporting Kansas City a dramatic victory over Real Salt Lake in the Major League Soccer Cup final on Saturday.
Alvaro Saborio put Real Salt Lake ahead in the 52nd minute, but Collin answered with a header in the 76th minute.
The score remained level through regulation and 30 minutes of overtime, leading to the longest penalty shootout in MLS championship history — one that both sides had chances to win before Collin's shot and Jimmy Nielsen's save gave Sporting KC the 7-6 victory.
Collin, a defender, had never attempted a penalty in his career.
"I hope I never have to kick another one again," the Frenchman said with a smile.
It was the first league title for Sporting KC since 2000.
It was also the third time the MLS Cup has gone to a penalty shootout. Houston beat New England in 2006, and Real Salt Lake topped the Los Angeles Galaxy 5-4 in 2009 for its only title.
"I never think that penalty kicks are the best way to end a game, but you can't just keep going," said Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes, who was on the team known then as the Kansas City Wizards that won the 2000 title. "You have to end it some way."
The game was the coldest MLS Cup in history, with temperatures at 22 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 Celsius) at kickoff and half of the field frozen solid.
But even in the frigid Midwestern American weather, tempers ran hot from the start.
Real Salt Lake's Chris Wingert picked up a yellow card midway through the first half when he plowed over C.J. Sapong, and Collin earned one for a reckless tackle. Saborio picked up his yellow card for running through Sporting KC's Benny Feilhaber, then bumping him back to the pitch.
The physical nature of the first half resulted in precious few scoring chances.
Real Salt Lake finally broke through in the second half. Collin's weak clear was tracked down by Kyle Beckerman, and he passed ahead to Saborio, who made a nifty move around defender Matt Besler and put a shot in the corner of the net.
Sporting KC answered in the 76th minute when Collin redirected a corner kick with a header into the net.