Donnelly: 97th Minute Goal Lifts Sporting Over Real Salt Lake

It was a matchup between Eastern Conference leader Sporting Kansas City and the Western Conference leader Real Salt Lake, in Salt Lake City.

Saturday night’s game was one of the biggest measuring sticks of the season so far, and both teams delivered gutty, entertaining performances worthy of the top handful of squads in MLS.

Both sides were missing players to national team duty, but Real was depleted a bit more than Sporting without midfielder and captain Kyle Beckerman, along with starting keeper Nick Rimando.  KC was missing center defender Matt Besler, but it was his replacement that would score the shocking winner deep, deep into added time.

The Salt Lake bench was screaming for the ref’s final whistle as the clock ticked into the 97th minute, just as a perfect Graham Zusi corner found the head of tall and athletic Ike Opara.  The defender rose up and caught the keeper leaning the other way to give Sporting the 2-1 lead. That after going down 1-0 early in the second half.

The KC bench went nuts.  The stadium silent. And Salt Lake’s bench was livid.

Real had taken the lead early in the 2nd half off a bad mistake by Jimmy Nielsen – he came out on a free kick that was swung into the box and just barely got a touch on the ball, misjudging it badly.  The ball squirted over his head and Robbie Findley easily headed the deflection into the empty net.

But Sporting fought back and equalized with yet another goal from the red hot Soony Saad, who hitch-kicked a ball that had been knocked around the box off several different players.  It fell to him luckily, and he buried the close range shot.

A few minutes later the game took a dramatic turn when Salt Lake’s Chris Wingert picked up a second yellow and was sent off.  He picked up the first yellow in the first minute of the game when he laid a dirty hit on Kei Kamara, blindsiding him in the head and neck area.  The second came via a cynical tackle on Saad.

This is the part where Salt Lake boss Jason Kreis gets pissed.  Enjoy.

“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 began, only beginning to get warmed up. “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,” Kreis continued. “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.”

I love how Kreis takes for granted that the ref is going to be terrible.

Ahhh, MLS.  So the guy is inexperienced, I suppose.  But Salt Lake didn’t do themselves any favors by being so reckless right from the opening whistle.  What was the ref supposed to do?  It gets better:

“We have to move on quickly and hopefully in the majority of the games, the referee will get the decisions right,” Kreis adds. “And hopefully referees will know to not give seven minutes of extra time when he puts out [five]. These are difficult things to keep track of, I guess.”

Well, Kreis has a point there, that was an awful lot of added time.  

Let’s put a bow on this meltdown:

“This one the referee owns. In my opinion, the referees own this game.”

In a much lighter mood, KC boss Peter Vermes simply said, “I thought that we kept our cool really well, and I thought that paid off in the end, because obviously they got their red card and we didn’t. That was a good thing.”



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6 Responses to Donnelly: 97th Minute Goal Lifts Sporting Over Real Salt Lake

  1. Markus Aurelius says:

    Sour grapes. The ref was handing out yellows left and right. I actually think he called the game too tight.

    When he’s already sitting on a yellow, Wingert should have not been playing as he did. Had his earlier takedown of Kamara not been in the first minute he might have gotten a straight red for it. No way they give a straight red in the first minute though.

    Hard fought match and Kreis sounds like a whiney baby with that response. Frankly, he kind of looks like one too on the sidelines.

  2. legendaryhog says:

    Whaaaaaaa! Whaaaaaa! Blaming the refs? Wow. That is just, wow.

    You should be thanking the ref for not issuing a straight red to Wingert in the fifth freaking second of the game for the dumbest tackle of the year! I’m not even sure you could call that a tackle. The ball was twenty feet up in the air and he basically just ran at full speed, left his feet, and blindsided Kei in the back of the head with a lowered shoulder. He should have been gone. I know that a ref doesn’t want to throw a player out on the first play of the game, but seriously, that was a straight red card if I’ve ever seen one.

    Kreis should have bent over and kissed that ref’s whole asshole for letting that one go for a yellow. That was some bullshit. I’m surprised that a fistfight didn’t ensue with Collin rushing in there. If that was at KC, it would have been a brawl. So instead of playing 90 minutes one man down, Kreis, you should be thanking your lucky stars that you got to keep Wingent on for the 66 minutes that you had him. Not that he did much but allow Kei and Zusi to keep switching to his side to burn his ass (and Saad, which is how he picked up his second yellow for grabbing his jersey after he burned him…and Saad diving).

    In the long run, the Wingent foul worked against RSL, because now you’ve pissed off Sporting, Collin and Opera just started crushing fools, and there was no freaking way that ref could issue a straight red now that he let that first one slide. Seriously, you don’t want to poke a stick at the team leading the league in fouls to start the game unless you want it to get real, real physical. And that’s what you got.

    All in all it was a good game. Nielson shat himself on that RSL goal, otherwise it would have been a shutout. We aren’t going to see him do that again though, so no harm. It would have been nice for both squads to be at full strength for this one. A little unfair that all three of RSL’s Allstars were away for national team duty, but…fuck RSL, we’re all in for SKC. Still a Zusi v. Beckerman duel would have been fun to watch… SKC on a pretty good little stretch here. As long as they can keep scoring, the defense will take care of the rest.

    And, finally, not to talk out of both sides of my mouth, but as I posted last week…MLS you need consistent refereeing! Kreis is a little bitch for whining about the poor officiating, but he’s right. That was a horribly officiated game, but for both sides. Suck it up Kreis, you got the better of the decisions….you little baby, go get your bottle.

  3. PB says:

    I don’t know much about soccer, but isn’t blaming the refs sort of par for the course in the MLS? Seems to me that I’ve heard Vermes bitch about the officiating before as well including last season in the playoffs against Houston.

    • legendaryhog says:

      Ya, it happens, but its still a bitch move. Kreis just kinda took it to the next level this time. You don’t lose to the best team in the East and then blame it on the ref. No class there. You say, “well, we didn’t have the best performance…blah, blah, we were missing some key players due to call up to the national team, blah, blah.”

      You don’t say “the referee owns this one.” AKA, the referee is responsible for our losing this game. That is just weak as shit. Give SKC their due. They came into your house in front of a sold-out crowd and slapped you in the face with their collective cocks. Own it bitch. Taste the gravy!

    • Hot Carl says:

      PB, you’re right. Vermes blames the refs as much as anybody. I have season tix and have really grown to enjoy MLS but soccer coaches and players whine more than their counterparts in any other professional sport. The worst is when the players whine and bitch while play continues on right by them. I can even live with the flopping as it serves a purpose but the constant whining gets old.

      Just as bad is all the arm waving and crazy gesticulating at TEAMMATES when they f*ck up. If I’m not mistaken, Nielson even got a yellow this year for yelling at his own guys!

      Great win, though. Nice to see us beat a bunch of douchebags like RSL.

  4. the dude says:

    Is RSL the new thug Houston? It’s about time we got an extra time goal, those have been seeming to go against us as of late.

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