Cristian Arango scores as Real Salt Lake blanks Sporting Kansas City 1-0

Cristian Arango scored his ninth goal of the season in the 81st minute to lift Real Salt Lake to a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night in Sandy, Utah.

Arango's header off a set piece delivery from Brayan Vera took Salt Lake (6-2-3, 21 points) to a third consecutive win and a third home victory, halving their total from the entire 2023 season.

The Colombian striker finished the evening third on the MLS scoring list, only one behind both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez of Inter Miami.

Zac MacMath required only one save to keep his third clean sheet of the season and RSL's fourth on a night the Claret-and-Cobalt extended their unbeaten run to seven games.

John Pulskamp made four stops for Kansas City (2-4-5, 11 points), which was nine minutes plus stoppage time away from preserving its second shutout.

Instead, SKC was held scoreless for only a second time on a night it trailed 14-10 in total shots and 5-1 in efforts on target.

Vera was perhaps fortunate to remain on the field after he was only cautioned for an altercation with SKC's Daniel Salloi, in which he lifted Salloi off the turf.

He made good on his second chance on a free kick from the right flank, when he sent a menacing inswinging service toward the back post.

Arango outmuscled his marker and headed the ball downward and past Pulskamp, and defender Robert Voloder's desperate sliding clearance attempt only found the roof of the net.

It had been a game of few clear chances until then. Salt Lake defender Justen Glad flashed an early header off target, and SKC's Johnny Russell missed wide on his team's most promising chance of the first half.

The traffic was almost exclusively toward the visitors' goal in the second half, but even then there weren't many clear looks.

Substitute Diego Luna looked to have one of the best in the 68th minute when his look inside the penalty area was denied at the last moment by Tim Leibold's sliding challenge.

And 10 minutes later, Andres Gomez struck the woodwork with a speculative effort.

--Field Level Media