Created: 12/07/2013 9:06 PM WHEC.com
(AP) KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Aurelien Collin scored the equalizer in the second half of the MLS Cup, then drove home the deciding penalty kick to give Sporting Kansas City a dramatic victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night and its first league title since 2000.
Alvaro Saborio, who missed the Western Conference finals because of injury, scored for Real Salt Lake in the 52nd minute, but Collin answered with a header in the 76th minute.
It remained that way through regulation and 30 minutes of overtime, and then the teams engaged in the longest penalty-kick shootout in 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.
Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi had a chance to wrap it up in the first stage of penalty kicks, but he missed high and Real Salt Lake’s Javier Morales made good to force sudden death. Real Salt Lake had a chance when Lawrence Olum missed wide, but Nielsen made a diving save on Sebastian Velasquez.
Two rounds later, Collin placed his penalty kick just out of the reach of goalkeeper Nick Rimando, and Real Salt Lake’s Lovel Palmer was unable to answer him as Sporting KC players and coaches spilled off the sideline and fireworks began popping over sold-out Sporting Park.
It was the third time the MLS Cup has gone to a penalty kick shootout. Houston beat New England in 2006, and Real Salt Lake topped the Los Angeles Galaxy 5-4 in 2009 for its only title.
It also was the coldest MLS Cup in history with a game-time temperature of 22 degrees and a wind chill of 12, and that only dropped as the sun set and the game pressed through overtime.
Even in the frigid Midwestern 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, taking advantage of the wind suddenly at its back, 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.
Real Salt Lake players sprinted to the corner of Sporting Park, and Collin seemed to take umbrage with the celebration that ensued among a small but vocal contingent of visiting fans.
Real Salt Lake nearly put the game away on two occasions. Beckerman first ripped a shot off the post that bounced to Nielsen, who spiked the ball in frustration. Then, Javier Morales sent a shot off the opposite post that nearly caromed into the other side of the goal.
Sporting KC finally answered in the 76th minute when Zusi sent a corner kick toward the goal, and Collin leaped up and got his bald head cleanly on the ball, redirecting it into the net.
Both teams had chances to end it early overtime. Zusi’s open shot from the point was deflected high by Rimando in the 93rd minute, and a header by Saborio into the net in the 105th was waved off due to offsides, keeping the game going all the way to penalty kicks.