A month or so ago, Kansas City had its sights set on the Eastern Conference lead. Now its playoff chances are by no means secure. Real Salt Lake (3-11-6) sent the Wizards (9-9-5) tumbling to the .500 level with goals by two of its recently signed Argentines and its resident Jamaican, yet relied a team effort to frustrate KC with hustle and pressure, plus some tidy possession play, for much of the game.
Matias Mantilla, Fabian Espindola and Andy Williams (from 50 yards!) delivered the knockout punches in the 3-1 win that dealt KC its fourth loss in the last five games. Eddie Johnson scored with 21 minutes remaining for his 13th of the season but by then his team trailed by two.
The Wizards defense fell asleep in the first minute and again late in the first half.
After Kevin Hartman parried a low Kyle Beckerman shot for a corner, Javier Morales' inswinger hopped untouched through the goalmouth for Mantilla to head cleanly past Hartman.
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Espindola blasted a shot home from close range on a feed from Alecko Eskandarian, who pounced on a poor back pass from Kerry Zavagnin and held off Jimmy Conrad to set up the chance.
Kansas City's attack livened up in the second half with the insertion of yet another Argentine, Eloy Colombano, but it failed to fully exploit RSL's poor defending on set plays. After Conrad headed wide on a point-blank header and Rimando saved a weak Victorine effort,
Colombano sparked a sharp sequence of passes. Victorine back-heeled the ball and Johnson suddenly swiveled to drive a low shot just inside the far post.
Kansas City blew a great chance to equalize when Marinelli swung over a corner that Scott Sealy headed softly and Rimando smothered.
Hartman kept it close by punching away a low drive by Jean-Martial Kipre, but a minute later was caught marooned when Williams, after Atiba Harris gathered up yet another Wizards midfield giveaway, scored easily from more than 50 yards out with Hartman nowhere near the ball.
Kansas City has allowed a league-worst 36 goals.
With its third league win -- all at home, where it also beat the Wizards, 2-1, in the U.S. Open Cup four months ago - RSL sets out on a four-game road swing buoyed by some badly needed momentum.
Kansas City concludes a rough stretch of five games in 14 days Saturday in Houston. It can't relinquish the seventh overall spot in currently occupies, but the gap between it and eighth place could be much smaller than four points come Sunday night.
Aug. 29 in Salt Lake City
Real Salt Lake 3 Kansas City 1.
Goals: Mantilla (Morales) 1, Espindola (Eskandarian) 42, Williams (Harris) 85; Johnson 13 (Victorine) 69. Real Salt Lake - Rimando, Kipre, Mantilla, Pope (Wingert 55), Kotschau, Brown Talley (Harris 70), Morales (Williams 46), Beckerman, Eskandarian, Espindola. Kansas City - Hartman, Raybould, Conrad, Wahl, Burciaga Jr. (Harrington 61), Marinelli, Zavagnin (Colombano 46), Morsink, Victorine, Sealy (Pore 85), Johnson.
Yellow cards: Real Salt Lake -- Kipre 36, Mantilla 66, Wingert 77; Marinelli 63.
Referee: Alex Prus Att.: 11,721