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Late goal lifts Sporting KC over Real Salt Lake

Mar 26, 2022; Kansas City, Kansas, USA; Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia (29) stops a shot on goal against Real Salt Lake during the first half at Children's Mercy Park. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Russell’s torpedo in the 81st minute gave Sporting Kansas City a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo.

The goal was Russell’s first of the season. He picked up the ball just outside the box on the right side and eluded six different RSL defenders before firing one past goalkeeper Zac MacMath.

Sporting KC controlled the pace throughout the latter part of the second half but couldn’t get on the board until Russell’s late effort.

Sporting KC (2-3-0, 6 points), which did not have a 1-0 victory in 2021, has both of its wins by that score in 2022.

The victory was particularly sweet because of the opponent. RSL (3-1-1, 10 points) had not lost at Children’s Mercy Park in the regular season since 2017.

RSL handed Sporting a 1-0 loss to close the last regular season, which dropped SKC from the top spot to the No. 3 position in the Western Conference. Then RSL ended Sporting’s season with a 2-1 loss in the Western Conference semifinals. Both matches were at Children’s Mercy Park.

Sporing KC nearly got on the board in the 61st minute Saturday as Nikola Vujnovic almost scored his first goal of the season from short range. But MacMath parried it away.

Sporting KC welcomed back strikers Daniel Salloi and Russell, both of whom missed the club’s last match because of injuries. SKC almost saw an immediate impact when Salloi’s first-minute attempt sailed wide of the goal. RSL responded quickly with a shot inside the box by Jonathan Menendez in the fifth minute that was deflected by keeper Tim Melia.

Neither team could mount much more of an offensive threat in the first half. Sporting, which generally is one of the best possession teams in MLS, controlled nearly two-thirds of the possession over RSL, which traditionally doesn’t control possession.

–Field Level Media