After an unforgettable ouster of the Seattle Sounders on penalty kicks in Round One, Real Salt Lake, the West's seventh seed, advances to the Western Conference Final to face the Portland Timbers after erasing a first-half deficit to upset Sporting KC.
Johnny Russell opened the scoring with a clinical penalty kick, blasting to David Ochoa’s right in the 24th minute after Aaron Herrera tripped Gadi Kinda in the box. Kinda had latched onto a headed clearance by Justen Glad on the edge of the 18-yard box.
Five minutes into the second half, Sporting came close to doubling their lead when an inviting Kinda free kick was headed off the post and out by Pablo Ruiz for a corner kick.
With SKC sloppy in the attacking third, the visitors grew in confidence as the second half moved on, resulting in a nervous energy inside Children’s Mercy Park.
And then Wood scored the winner, slipping Meram's service past Melia in the first minute of second-half stoppage time, as the underdogs marched on with more late magic.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Real Salt Lake clinched an Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs berth at the death, beating Sporting Kansas City with a stoppage-time goal on the road on Decision Day. Then they returned to Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday, doing it again to reach the Western Conference Final. After ousting the Sounders and SKC at two of the toughest venues in MLS, RSL will go for the trifecta at Providence Park against Portland. For SKC, it's another bitterly disappointing playoff exit after a regular season in which they were at or near the top of the Western Conference the whole way.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Wood dropped the hammer with a 91st-minute winner, the club’s eighth stoppage-time goal of the season.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: We’re changing things up by giving this nod to Mastroeni. His masterclass of second-half substitutions propelled RSL to another upset win. Can we take "interim" off his title now?
- SKC: End of 2021 season
- RSL: Western Conference Final at Portland Timbers | Saturday, Dec. 4, 6:30 pm ET (FS1, FOX Deportes)