Diego Rubio and Daniel Salloi each scored first-half goals and then Salloi added a second in the final minute to help Sporting Kansas City beat Real Salt Lake 4-2 and win their Western Conference semifinals series on a 5-3 aggregate.
Kansas City poured on the pressure throughout the first half, winning multiple balls and pressing the attack against a Salt Lake team missing forward Corey Baird and midfielder Albert Rusnak.
Baird was sidelined after suffering a concussion in training during the week. Rusnak did not play after being suspended because of yellow card accumulation.
Kansas City previously faced Salt Lake in the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2013, when it defeated the Utah club in a shootout to win the 2013 MLS Cup. SKC will play the Portland Timbers in the two-leg Western Conference finals.
Rubio put Kansas City up 1-0 in the 14th minute. Felipe Gutierrez set it up when he took a through ball from Johnny Russell and drew Nick Rimando out for a one-on-one challenge. The veteran goalkeeper came off the line and Gutierrez quickly flicked the ball out to a wide-open Rubio. The SKC forward latched onto the ball and threaded it inside the right post as he charged toward the net.
Salloi tacked on a second goal in the 19th minute. Gutierrez set it up once again, feeding a crisp pass down the center of the box to the forward. Salloi blasted it high past Rimando and buried it in the center of the net to create the two-goal cushion.
It marked the first time that Kansas City scored twice in the first half of a playoff game since 2002.
Salt Lake pulled one back on Sebastian Saucedo's goal in the 60th minute. Joao Plata wove through traffic and laid the ball off to him near the top of the box. Saucedo blasted it down the middle to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Kansas City seemingly snuffed out the comeback attempt when Ilie Sanchez successfully converted a penalty kick in the 67th minute. RSL didn't go away quietly, though.
Damir Kreilach narrowed the deficit to one goal again in the 72nd minute. Plata angled a corner kick to him inside the six-yard box. Kreilach quickly headed it home inside the right post.
Salloi got the brace in the final minute of second-half stoppage time. His second goal came when he capitalized on a defensive mistake by Salt Lake and blasted the ball into an empty net.