Real Salt Lake’s season ends after furious rally falls just short in 4-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City in West semifinals

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman (5) clears the ball away from Sporting Kansas City forward Diego Rubio (11) during the first half of a MLS Western Conference semifinals soccer match in Kansas City, Kan., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Kansas City, Kan. • The odds finally caught up with Real Salt Lake.

RSL made the playoffs with help from the Houston Dynamo. It beat LAFC on the road when it wasn’t favored to win. And it came away with a tie in the first leg of the Western Conference Finals against the best team in the conference.

But on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park, RSL succumbed to Sporting Kansas City in a 4-2 loss. Sporting will play the Portland Timbers in the conference finals, and Real is left to wonder what could have been.

Two shots by Nick Besler and Jefferson Savarino just missed the side of the goal in the final six minutes of regulation as RSL searched relentlessly for the tying goal that would left it into the conference finals. But Dániel Sallói scored in the seventh minute of extra time for the final score.

“To see us take it to them in the second half and have two clear-cut chances to tie the game and take the series — it’s a game of inches,” RSL head coach Mike Petke said. “But for now, all I can say is [I am] extremely proud. I think any RSL supporter out there watching tonight should realize how much these guys put in and they should be proud.”

Down two goals in the 72nd minute, Joao Plata crossed into the box on a corner-kick set piece and found Damir Kreilach, who headed the ball in and brought RSL’s deficit to 3-2. It was Real’s fifth goal off a corner this season.

The next 25 minutes saw Salt Lake pound the ball into the attacking third, putting more pressure on Sporting KC than it had in the entire game. But just before the referees called the final whistle, Brooks Lennon’s headed pass to Nick Rimando went awry and was intercepted by Sallói, who tipped the ball to himself as Rimando dove for it.

Sallói scored a no-look goal into an open net.

Sebastian Saucedo, who subbed on for Luis Silva at halftime, gave Salt Lake some life in the 60th minute. He passed to Joao Plata, who dribbled down the left side of the goal and toward the 6-yard box. Plata passed back to Saucedo, who netted a goal with his left foot for a 2-1 deficit.

But just seven minutes later, Nedum Onuoha appeal to bump an SKC player in the box and was called for a foul. Ilie Sánchez tricked Rimando with a flick-type penalty kick that went in and gave Sporting a 3-1 lead.

RSL gave up two goals in the first 19 minutes that came just five minutes apart. Diego Rubio scored in the 14th on Felipe Gutiérrez’s assist. Johnny Russell’s ball from just a couple yards from midfield set up the sequence.

In the 19th, Ike Opara intercepted a clearance that dropped in front of Felipe Gutiérrez, passed to Dániel Sallói for the 2-0 lead.

“It’s disappointing not to go on,” Kyle Beckerman said. “But we gave everything we had.”