Real Salt Lake badly needed a result on the road in order to keep its playoff position. On Sunday, in front of a national TV audience, it did exactly that.
RSL went onto rival Sporting Kansas City’s pitch and played its way to a 1-1 draw. The result elevated RSL to 46 points, but the team is still in the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“This is a tough place to come play,” RSL coach Mike Petke told FS1 after the game. “They had the bulk of the possession, they had the bulk of the shots. I thought we did very well in transition. ... And I thought our defensive movement to deny them and frustrate them was very good.”
Corey Baird received a pinpoint pass from Brooks Lennon and scored in the ninth minute to give RSL a 1-0 lead. The official assist for Baird’s goal was given to Jefferson Savarino.
But in the 52nd minute, Sporting KC earned a corner kick. Johnny Russel delivered the ball into the box to Ike Opara, who headed the ball into the back of the net for a 1-1 tie.
Late in the game, RSL keeper Nick Rimando appeared to take a blow to the mouth while diving in front of a KC player to prevent a shot. Despite looking like he was in pain and a few minutes of stoppage, he remained in the game and made an important save in the 87th minute.
Sporting KC outshot RSL 20-8. But only six of KC’s shots were on goal, compared with three for RSL.
Nedum Onuoha made his first appearance for RSL in the 88th minute. Nedum signed with the team earlier this month.