Last night’s clash between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake was one for the ages as a stoppage time goal by Ike Opara handed Sporting a 2-1 victory before a sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium.
Robbie Findley gave RSL the lead early in the second half before a skirmish in Salt Lake’s box resulted in a Soony Saad volley bringing Kansas City level. The fiercely fought contest looked destined to end in a draw but Opara’s 96th minute header silenced the Rio Tinto crowd as Sporting claimed all three points.
The match between the first place teams from the Western and Eastern conferences started with a bang as RSL defender Chris Wingert plowed into Kei Kamara, leaving the Sierra Leone-American in a heap. Wingert was shown a yellow card for his role in the play, which would be the first of seven cautions handed out on the night.
The deadlock was broken in the 56th minute when Sporting keeper Jimmy Nielsen misplayed Javier Morales’ free kick floated into the box. Nielsen’s tipped effort went right to Findley, who did well to keep his balance and head the ball into the net.
Ten minutes later, Wingert was issued his marching orders after Saad cleverly knicked the ball past the full-back, who pulled the Sporting forward down by his shirt.
Within a minute of the sending, Sporting were level after RSL failed to clear the ball from their box and Claudio Bieler headed to Saad, who went horizontal to volley the ball into the back of the net.
With time winding down, RSL looked to have a point in hand before Sporting winger Graham Zusi curled in a beautiful cross that Opara rose high to snap into the back of the net.
The victory gives Kansas City a four point gap over Montreal at the top of the Eastern Conference while the loss means RSL’s Western Conference lead over the Portland Timbers is down to three points.
Both clubs return to action next Saturday with RSL facing a difficult away match at New York while Sporting head to Montreal for a clash with the Impact.