Real Salt Lake beat rivals Sporting Kansas City 2-1 to book a place in the Western Conference finals. They will play the Portland Timbers next week in a bid to reach the MLS Cup final.

Real Salt Like - Western Conference Final
Real Salt Like qualified for their first conference final since 2013. (Image: Twitter/ashtone_m)

Sporting KC opened the scoring against RSL in the 24th minute after a penalty from Johnny Russell. Anderson Julio’s presence on the pitch in the second half proved decisive for the visitor’s win. The Atletico San Luis loanee equalized in the 72nd minute, just 15 minutes after coming on to replace Joni Menendez, and proved hard to handle by Sporting KC’s throughout the remainder of the game.

Pablo Mastroeni’s substitutions proved to be state of the art, as the two other players he sent onto the pitch in the second half worked the goal that decided the game. Bobby Wood netted in stoppage time, putting the ball past Tim Melia after a cross from Justin Meram to give Real Salt Lake the win.

“I’d like to say I’m surprised, but when we scored that first goal, I knew we were going to get a second one,” Mastroeni said, pointing out his team’s second-half performance.

RSL’s triumph against Kansas City marks the second consecutive season where a team seeded seventh or lower advances to the conference final. Eighth-seeded New England accomplished the feat in 2020. Against the Timbers, Real Salt Lake will play its first conference final since 2013.

Before the playoffs kicked off, Real Salt Lake was at +5,000 to win the MLS Cup. Thanks to their unbelievable performances in the last two games, they now stand at +1,400.