MLS Cup 2013: Keys to Final Match for Sporting and Royals

David Daniels@TheRealDDanielsSenior Writer IDecember 7, 2013

KANSAS CITY, KS - APRIL 14:  Roger Espinoza #15 of Sporting Kansas City battles Nat Borchers #6 of Real Salt Lake for the ball during the Major League Soccer game on April 14, 2012 at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City will compete for the same 2013 MLS Cup Trophy on Saturday, Dec. 7, but they won’t compete with the same strategy.

Each football club has a different key that will swing the match its way if accomplished. Here are those keys.


Real Salt Lake: Push the Tempo

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 24: Abdoulie Mansally #29 of Real Salt Lake goes up for a ball during the second half of the game against the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on November 24, 2013 in Portland, Oregon. Real Salt Lake won the match 1-0 to advance.
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Only one team scored more goals in the regular season this year than the Royals. Their offensive is explosive, and their best chance to claim the MLS Cup crown is to take advantage of that explosiveness by pushing the tempo.

Leading this lethal scoring attack will be the top goal scorer and assist man in the contest. Alvaro Saborio scored 12 goals this season, finishing tied for seventh in MLS. Javier Morales, who scored eight goals himself, also notched 10 assists, fourth most in the league.

Sitting back and playing it safe takes the game out of the hands of Saborio and Morales. Pushing the tempo allows Real Salt Lake’s offensive stars to shine.


Sporting Kansas City: Take Smart Shots

KANSAS CITY, KS - NOVEMBER 23:  Paulo Nagamura #6 of the Sporting KC battles Brad Davis #11 of the Houston Dynamo for the ball during Leg 2 of the Eastern Conference Championship at Sporting Park on November 23, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Jam
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Kansas City scored 10 fewer goals than Real Salt Lake this season, despite attempting 52 more shots. And despite attempting 52 more shots, Sporting finished with 13 fewer shots on goal than the Royals.

Kansas City clearly isn’t as gifted at putting the ball in the net. It would benefit from not only slowing the tempo down, but taking full advantage of each of its opportunities. Firing as many shots as possible doesn’t win football games—they must be accurate shots.

Sporting KC only has one footballer who scored more than seven goals this season, Claudio Beiler, and he hasn’t started since September. Kansas City will win the title if performs efficiently on offense and its defense, which allowed seven fewer goals than Real Salt Lake, maintains its dominance.


David Daniels is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.