Diego Rubio scored from distance in the 60th minute, seconds after entering as a second-half substitute, and Western Conference champion Sporting Kansas City tied Real Salt Lake 1-1 on Sunday in Game 1 of the two-legged semifinal.
It was Rubio's first touch since entering as a sub. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando's clearance attempt was deflected by a hustling Felipe Gutierrez and Rubio settled it, took a touch and sent it inside the far post.
Albert Rusnak scored for RSL in the 52nd minute by volleying home Damir Kreilach's header on a give-and-go. Rusnak, one of RSL's key players, will miss the next game after picking up a yellow card on a needless challenge of Graham Zusi far from goal.
Sporting KC, which will host the second leg next Sunday, has only one win in its last 13 regular-season meeting against RSL -- with six ties.