It may still be June, but two clubs just below the playoff positions in the Western Conference standings will be looking to improve their postseason chances when Sporting Kansas City travels to Sandy, Utah, to play Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Sporting K.C. (4-5-7, 19 points) will look to build on their first road win of the season, a 1-0 victory at Columbus last Sunday. RSL (6-8-2, 20 points) managed a road draw, 1-1, last Saturday at Chicago.
The Saturday contest marks the end of a long run of road games for Sporting. SKC has gone 1-0-2 in MLS play, plus a 4-1 loss to Minnesota United in U.S. Open Cup play, while going all of June without a home match.
“I think it’s going to be another battle,” SKC forward Gerso Fernandes said of the trip to Salt Lake. “We know it’s going to be very hard, but we’ll fight for the three points until the last minute.”
Sporting has a trio of players with seven goals apiece, Johnny Russell, Felipe Gutierrez and Krisztian Nemeth.
RSL just completed its own three-game MLS road trip and returns to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time since May 24. The big news in camp this week was the selection of goalkeeper Nick Rimando to his sixth MLS All-Star appearance, something that coach Mike Petke said was well deserved.
“At first, he went through a whole bunch of emotions,” Petke said. “This is a great honor. He knew it; he was just doing the humble thing.”
Since the rivalry blossomed in 2013 with Sporting’s penalty-kick victory in the MLS Cup championship game, SKC and RSL have squared off 19 times in all competitions. Five of those meetings took place last year, when SKC booted RSL out of both the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup playoffs.
RSL has held an upper hand in regular-season meetings at Rio Tinto Stadium, going 8-3-3. The clubs have locked horns 28 times in MLS play, with Real Salt Lake holding an 11-9-8 edge.
–Field Level Media