Real Salt Lake 1, Sporting Kansas City 1 | 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Recap
Sporting Kansas City will favor their chance to advance to the Western Conference Championship after substitute Diego Rubio's equalizer secured a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Rubio seized upon a giveaway from RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando to score on his first touch of the game, only moments after his entrance. The leveler came nine minutes after Albert Rusnak had given the hosts the lead with a thunderbolt half-volley following a headed wall pass with Damir Kreilach.
Making things more complicated for No. 6 seed RSL, they'll make the return leg trip to top seed SKC without Rusnak after the Slovakian international picked up his second yellow card of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs for his first-half challenge on Graham Zusi.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Rusnak might not be the only player unavailable for the return leg for RSL. Marcelo Silva also had to exit early because of a groin injury, though with Justen Glad in reserve, the Claret and Cobalt might be better equipped than most MLS sides to handle an absence at center back in the postseason.
Per #RSL: Marcelo Silva left the game due to a groin injury. The extent of it is not known at this time.— Alex Vejar (@AlexVReporting) November 5, 2018
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Rusnak's simple give-and-go with Kreilach was arguably the best goal in any of Sunday's four Conference Semifinal matches, and showcases the kind of quality that makes his upcoming absence a big deal.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Johnny Russell may not have gotten on the scoresheet, but his tireless work down the right flank — at altitude no less — was a major reason why SKC kept RSL from assume a more dominant posture as a home side looking to build a Leg 1 advantage.
- Western Conference Semifinal Leg 2
Sunday, November 11
Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake