Ike Opara's second-half goal helped Sporting Kansas City rally to salvage a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake on Sunday and inch closer to punching their ticket to the MLS Cup playoffs.
Opara has scored a goal in three straight MLS regular season matches against Salt Lake. His latest puts Kansas City (15-8-7, 52 points) in good position to clinch a playoff spot for the eighth straight season. Sporting needs a win or draw this Saturday against the Los Angeles Galaxy to clinch.
Corey Baird scored in the first half for RSL. It wasn't enough to keep the club's winless streak from stretching to three games. Salt Lake (13-11-7, 46 points) is in a precarious spot going into October, just two points ahead of the Galaxy for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Salt Lake got on the board in the ninth minute following a successful counterattack. Baird raced forward and latched onto a through ball served up by Jefferson Savarino. From there, the RSL forward drew out goalkeeper Tim Melia and threaded the ball home inside the left post.
Opara leveled the score in the 52nd minute. Johnny Russell swung a corner kick into the defender and he leaped high to snag the ball. Opara then snapped a powerful header past goalkeeper Nick Rimando to the back post for the equalizer.
Salt Lake endured a major scare late in the match. Rimando went down in the 81st minute after taking a cleat to the face in a collision.
Diego Rubio slipped a through ball to Gerso Fernandes. Upon reaching the edge of the box, Fernandes collided with Rimando as he came out to challenge. It caused a four-minute stoppage in the match while Rimando received treatment, but he was able to finish out the game.