Sporting Kansas City suffered a 4-2 loss on Wednesday at Real Salt Lake in a match that opened with Daniel Salloi scoring his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
The match ended with Sporting Kansas City reduced to nine men and Real Salt Lake scoring the latest stoppage time goal in MLS regular season history on the hosts’ second penalty kick of the night.
The promising start came in the 20th minute as Sporting KC struck first on a well-worked movement capped off by the finishing touch from Salloi.
Roger Espinoza played a cross-field switch to Seth Sinovic, who settled the service and picked out Salloi in the area with a pinpoint pass of his own. The young Sporting Kansas City Academy product made no mistake in burying a first-time finish past Nick Rimando from six yards out and becomes the youngest player in MLS with six goals this season.
Real Salt Lake responded emphatically, nearly equalizing in a matter of minutes when Corey Baird fired wide in a forewarning of the three goals to come in a span of 20 minutes.
Tim Melia momentarily kept the clean sheet and Sporting Kansas City’s 1-0 advantage in the 28th minute as the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year raced off his line and lunged at full extension to thwart Damir Kreilach.
However, the hosts pulled level on the ensuing corner which fell to young designated player Jefferson Savarino at the top of the penalty area. The 21-year-old Venezuelan scored his third goal of the year with a well-taken shot that deflected off Ike Opara en route to finding the back of the net.
Baird made amends for his earlier miss and pulled Real Salt Lake ahead in the 37th minute with his team-leading fifth goal of his rookie campaign. The 22-year-old homegrown player picked up a loose ball off a throw-in deep in the team’s attacking third and finished from a tight angle under pressure from Sinovic.
Melia was called into action for a pair of saves in the 44th minute and Sporting Kansas City was poised to enter halftime down a single goal until Real Salt Lake struck for a third time on a clinical counter in first half stoppage time.
Sebastian Saucedo, 21, tucked home what would prove to be the decisive dagger from the edge of the area as all three forwards in Real Salt Lake’s 4-3-3 put their names on the scoresheet in the first half of play.
Sporting Kansas City, which hadn’t conceded three first-half goals on the road in the regular season since July 2008, inserted winger Johnny Russell at the start of the second half and the move paid dividends in the 64th minute as Sporting KC cut the deficit in half.
Espinoza earned his team-leading eighth assist of the season, a new career high, as he played the ball wide to Russell. The Scottish international beat Justen Glad on the dribble and found Opara at the far post to push the ball over the line and breathe life into the comeback quest.
The late search for an equalizer would ultimately fail to come to fruition, stymied by two penalty kicks awarded to Real Salt Lake and two Sporting Kansas City players sent off by referee Sorin Stoica in four separate incidents.
Baird first won a penalty in the 78th minute on a challenge from Espinoza. Albert Rusnak stepped to the spot with a chance to seal the match only to attempt a failed Panenka as he chipped the ball directly into the hands of Melia, who stood his ground in the middle of the goal for his second penalty kick save of the season.
Real Salt Lake second-half substitute Nick Besler, the younger brother of Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler, would then suffer two fouls resulting in red cards, first catching a flailing arm from Salloi in the 90th minute before drawing a second yellow on Espinoza four minutes later.
Salloi and Espinoza will both serve mandatory one-game suspensions on Saturday against Toronto FC.
The home side would then close out the scoring with the latest stoppage-time goal in MLS regular season history as Luis Silva won a penalty kick on a last-ditch tackle from Ilie and converted the subsequent PK at 99:55.
Sporting Kansas City, which had not conceded four goals since 2015 or lost back-to-back regular season matches by multiple goals since 2014, slips to second place in the Western Conference with Wednesday’s result.
The loss also marked the team’s first of 2018 in which Sporting Kansas City scored first, blemishing the 8-0-2 record previously when holding a 1-0 lead.
The club now returns home for a highly anticipated battle with reigning MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield champion Toronto FC on Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. The cross-conference clash will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a postgame fireworks show. A limited number of tickets remain available via SeatGeek.com.
– Story from Sporting KC