2019 Major League Soccer, Regular Season
  • Sam Johnson (15', 29')

Johnson's brace leads Real Salt Lake past Sporting KC

Sam Johnson netted a first-half brace and Real Salt Lake remained in the thick of the playoff chase with a 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night in Sandy, Utah.

RSL (7-8-2, 23 points) was playing its first MLS match at Rio Tinto Stadium since May 24. The victory, combined with San Jose's victory over the LA Galaxy on Saturday, allowed RSL to remain one point out of the final playoff position in the Western Conference table. But RSL also opened a four-point lead over Sporting KC.

Sporting (4-6-7, 19 points) concluded a 1-1-2 month of June in MLS play, all away from Children's Mercy Park. They'll host Western Conference-leading LAFC Wednesday night to begin a run of playing seven of their next 11 matches at home. At the halfway point of the season, Sporting is just two points ahead of last place.

Other than the final score, Sporting owned the stats Saturday. They owned the edge in corners (7-1), shots (11-10) and possession (54-46 percent). But they couldn't get a shot past eight-time all-star keeper Nick Rimando.

The shutout was the 147th of Rimando's 20-year MLS career, the most in MLS history.

RSL jumped out early on Johnson's first goal in the 15th minute. Following the first corner of the night, Kyle Beckerman headed a loose ball toward the lower left corner of the goal, where Johnson found it at his feet and redirected it past SKC keeper Tim Melia.

Johnson got another goal, his seventh of the season, in the 29th minute following a rare mistake by defender Matt Besler. Besler lost possession just inside his own territory, setting up a 3-on-1 and eventually a 4-on-1. Johnson took control of a ball between him and Albert Rusnak and blasted it past Melia.

Prior to Saturday's match, the clubs had locked horns 34 times in all competitions since RSL entered MLS in 2005, splitting the series with 12 wins and 10 draws apiece.