KANSAS CITY, KANSAS (November 11, 2018) – For the first time in five years, Kansas City hosted playoff soccer.
It was a familiar foe for Sporting KC, who hosted Real Salt Lake for the second leg of the Western Conference semi-finals. The last time Sporting KC played a playoff game in front of their home crowd? MLS Cup 2013 against Real Salt Lake.
It took penalties to decide that game on a freezing December day. It may have taken nearly every second to decide the match, but no penalties were required this time around.
Sporting KC beats Real Salt Lake 4-2, advances to Western Conference Finals
Sporting KC came out strong in the attack, looking to prove a point that they were the superior side. It looked as if goals may come in the 4th and 8th minutes for SKC at the feet of Ilie Sanchez and Daniel Salloi, but Kansas City didn’t break through until the 14th minute.
Forward Johnny Russell played a gorgeous ball to a wide-open Felipe Gutierrez in the box. Rather than taking the shot on goal himself, Felipe unselfishly laid it off to Diego Rubio, who forcefully finished off the attack to put Sporting KC up 1-0.
Five minutes later, it was Daniel Salloi’s turn to get on the scoreboard. Felipe once again played a brilliant ball to Salloi, who took one touch before blasting the ball past Rimando to double Sporting KC’s lead.
Real Salt Lake seemed to settle in a bit after giving up two early goals, but couldn’t find the net until the second half. In the 60th minute, Joao Plata sent a low cross to Sebastian Saucedo who smartly fired the ball into the lower right corner of the net.
There seemed to be a glimmer of hope for RSL who would advance on a 2-2 scoreline due to away goals, but then RSL defender Chinedum Onuoha took Diego Rubio down in the box to give Sporting KC a penalty kick.
Ilie Sanchez stepped up to the spot and shot a cheeky panenka kick right down the middle of the net past a diving Rimando, putting Sporting KC up 3-1.
Real Salt Lake wasn’t ready to give up, though. Damir Kreilach sent a 72nd-minute corner kick past Tim Melia to bring RSL within one goal of the home side.
RSL continued to look dangerous throughout the remainder of the second half and a whopping 7 minutes of stoppage time. But Sporting KC did just enough, with Daniel Salloi scoring a last-second goal to seal the match and give Sporting KC the 5-3 aggregate win.
Sporting KC will face the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference Finals.