KANSAS CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Before last week, Real Salt Lake had not won a game this season when giving up the first goal.
Now, they’ve done it in back-to-back games.
Corey Baird scored two goals as RSL overcame an early deficit to beat Sporting Kansas City for the second time this season, 2-1.
RSL is now 5-1-3 since the Gold Cup break in June, and is now 11-9-4 overall, tied with the LA Galaxy with 37 points for fifth place in the Western Conference Standings.
“It feels great,” said Baird, the reigning MLS Rookie of the Year. “The last couple of years we’ve had a great rivalry with Sporting. Their fans really brought it today and it was a fun game to play in.”
RSL played its third straight game without suspended head coach Mike Petke. Petke is eligible to return to team activities this week, but there is speculation owner Dell Loy Hansen is considering firing Petke for making a homophobic slur against a referee.
Freddy Juarez once again assumed head coaching duties on the bench, and the team responded.
“At the end of the day it was a hard game, but well done for every player because we put hard work in,” said forward Damir Kreilach. “It was a brilliant performance. We know that Sporting is a great team. To take three points here, I have to say well done to our team.”
“It’s a big win for us,” said assistant coach Tyrone Marshall. ” Coming into this game, the talk was having a good road mentality. I thought the boys did fantastic tonight. We went down early but we showed resilience. We showed character tonight and that was fantastic.
Johnny Russell bent a free kick just inside the post to give Sporting (7-10-7) a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute, but Baird answered in the 38th. Albert Rusnák banged a free kick off the post and Baird tapped in the rebound from point-blank range to level the match at one.
Sporting KC had a golden opportunity to take the lead just before the half, but Felipe Gutierrez clanked a penalty kick shot off the crossbar to keep the match tied.
Then in the 70th minute, Baird side-netted a low left-footer to give Real Salt Lake a 2-1 lead. The goal was Baird’s third of the season.
“I think I’ve struggled a little bit this year to get on the stat sheet so it’s nice to be getting some goals here and helping the team out to get the win,” Baird said.
“Corey is one of those guys that needs to get in a rhythm,” Marshall said. “Previous games it seemed like he was out of rhythm a bit and we gave him an opportunity to rest because was in the national team earlier in the year. I’m glad to see Corey on good form now and this is where we want to see guys clicking.”
RSL put six shots on frame, compared to three for SKC. Nick Rimando made two saves in goal to earn the victory.
Real Salt Lake next plays two home games this coming week against Seattle on Wednesday and LAFC on Saturday.