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Sporting KC make last-gasp playoff push vs. Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake’s playoff fate will not be decided on the final day of the regular season for a third consecutive year. The Utah club enters its home finale against Sporting Kansas City Saturday with a postseason berth assured.

Salt Lake (13-11-7, 46 points) clinched a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs after Los Angeles FC beat Minnesota 5-1 on Wednesday. That result followed on the heels of RSL’s 1-0 road victory over LAFC on Sunday — their first ever regular-season win over LAFC away from home.

Chicho Arango scored the match’s only goal in the 72nd minute when he headed the ball off a curled cross from Rubio Rubin to the far post. Arango’s 99th goal of his pro soccer career, combined with Zac MacMath’s eighth clean sheet in 2023, helped Salt Lake earn a club-record seventh road victory this season.

“You couldn’t have scripted it any better,” RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “It’s a fantastic story for Chicho. He’s really important (for) his leadership and his drive in this group.”

Kansas City (10-14-8, 38 points) finds itself in a desperate situation with two matches left. They trail FC Dallas by three points for the final wild-card spot and needs a victory or draw in Utah, coupled with a Dallas loss to San Jose, to keep its scant playoff hopes alive.

A lack of consistency has proved problematic for Kansas City in recent matches. A 4-1 setback to first-place St. Louis last Saturday marked the third loss in five matches for the club.

St. Louis ran off four goals in a 12-minute stretch late in the second half to pull away. Their flurry prevented Willy Agada’s stoppage-time goal off a header from having any meaningful impact.

“Why did we give up those goals? Poor decisions,” Kansas City coach Peter Vermes said. “It was poor decisions. At the end of the day, it was just poor decisions.”

Salt Lake and Kansas City met once earlier this season, battling to a 2-2 draw in July.

–Field Level Media

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