Despite the game being a nail biter and RSL showing some promising attacking play, they were unable to find the goals needed to move on, as SKC sealed the victory with a 4-2 scoreline and Real Salt Lake’s season comes to an end.
Petke fielded an interesting lineup this week, opting to start Nick Besler in lieu of Justen Glad who was on the bench, while Luke Mulholland got the start in Sunny’s stead. In addition, Corey Baird didn’t even make the 18 due to concussion protocol, so Luis Silva started at the point of the attack while Damir Kreilach slotted into Albert Rusnak’s position.
SKC came out on the attack from the beginning, taking the ball to RSL’s goal for the first part of the game. Kyle Beckerman saved a goal early on, as Rimando tipped an incoming ball to the far side of the box, SKC let a shot rip while Nick was still off his line, but luckily Beckerman was standing on the goal line and cleared it with his chest, keeping the home side off the score sheet.
Kansas City drew first blood in the 14th minute when Johnny Russell found Felipe Gutierrez completely unmarked and heading toward goal. He sent a ball to Diego Rubio as Nick Besler scrambled to get back toward the ball. Rubio was able to send it straight in past Rimando, putting the home side up 1-0.
Salloi struck for Sporting again just five minutes later, thanks to a ball in from Gutierrez. The through ball found its way to Salloi who got straight past RSL’s defense and sent a curling shot in to Rimando’s left, doubling the home side’s lead and eliminating the possibility of a penalty shootout.
RSL, despite some great chances on goal, couldn’t find the back of the net in the first half and headed to the locker room with a 2-0 deficit. Down, but not out.
Bofo Saucedo, who came in after halftime for Luis Silva, opened the scoring for RSL in the 60th minute when Plata sent a ball to him at the top of the box. Bofo got a shot off that found its way past Tim Melia, pulling RSL within one goal of advancing.
Kyle Beckerman grabbed a yellow card for a reckless challenge in the 64th minute, meaning he would miss leg one of the conference championships should RSL move on.
In the 65th minute, Onuoha was whistled for a foul on Diego Rubio as he appeared to take him down in the box. The ref pointed to the spot, and Ilie Sanchez converged the PK, putting SKC in a comfortable 3-1 leading position.
The 72nd minute brought more hope for the visitors as a Plata corner found its way straight to Kreilach’s head, who was able to snap it straight down into the net, bringing RSL back within one. One more goal without conceding would put RSL through to the next round.
While RSL had some absolute golden opportunities to score their third goal, it was Kansas City who got the last laugh when a headed back pass to Rimando from Brooks Lennon fell way short and Daniel Salloi easily collected it and sent it into a wide open net, icing the game with a 4-2 final score.
Real Salt Lake had their chances to put the game away, but defensive mistakes and some inability to finish the ball ultimately ensured their playoff exit.
SKC will move on to play the Portland Timbers in the conference finals.