With a goal from Bobby Wood in the 90 + 1 minute, Real Salt Lake beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 this Sunday and advanced to the semifinals of the North American Soccer League (MLS).
The Scotsman Johnny Russell had overtaken Sporting with a penalty in the 24th minute but the Ecuadorian Anderson Julio, in the 72nd, and Wood in the discount culminated the surprising comeback from Salt Lake.
Mexican international forward Alan Pulido returned to the starting position in Kansas City but was in poor form and was substituted in 73.
Real Salt Lake will play the final of the Western Conference against the Portland Timbers of Argentine forward Sebastián Blanco, who eliminated the Colorado Rapids on Thursday.
The Salt Lake City (Utah) team is one of the great revelations of the season after taking down the Seattle Sounders, second in the West in the regular season, in the first round on penalties, and now Sporting, third.
The squad led on an interim basis by former US player Pablo Mastroeni, born in Argentina, took seventh place, last for the playoffs, in a dramatic last day ahead of teams like the LA Galaxy of Mexican Javier ‘Chicharito Hernández.
This Sunday, Sporting appeared to assert their status as favorites when Israeli Gadi Kinda was brought down in the Salt Lake area by a kick from defender Aaron Herrera.
Russell made it 1-0 causing the celebration in the stands of Children’s Mercy Park, where was the star of the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL, Patrick Mahomes, minority shareholder of Sporting.
– Goals from the bench –
Alan Pulido, still in cotton wool from his recent knee injury, and Russell had options to increase the home side’s lead before the break.
Sporting backed down in the second half and Salt Lake pressed the accelerator until Anderson Julio, who just took to the field, equalized the score with a header inside the area.
Unable to react, Sporting tried to hold out until extra time but the visitors turned it around with the target of Bobby Wood, another substitute, who hit a great cross from the left by Justin Meram on the toe.
Real Salt Lake will now battle Timbers for their third League final, after a title in 2009 and a runner-up in 2013.
This Sunday the clash between the Philadelphia Union and Nashville SC was also disputed for a place in the Eastern Conference final.
– MLS Playoffs Second Round Schedule (Conference Semifinals):
Colorado Rapids 0-1 Portland Timbers
Sporting Kansas City 1-2 Real Salt Lake
Philadelphia Union – Nashville SC
New England Revolution – New York City FC
gbv / ma