Sandy, UT – Sandy, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of interconference rivals will hope to get back to winning ways on Thursday when Real Salt Lake welcomes the Montreal Impact to Rio Tinto Stadium.
Both teams are hoping to snap winless streaks in league play as Real Salt Lake is winless in it past two matches, while Montreal has struggled for most of the season and is trying to break the shackles of a three-match losing streak.
The hosts are coming off a 1-1 draw against Western Conference rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Rio Tinto last Saturday.
Vancouver took the lead in the 73rd minute, converting a controversial penalty kick as Darren Mattocks earned the call on a breakaway in the box after RSL defender Nat Borchers appeared to make a clean slide-tackle to get the ball out from under the speedy forward, but the referee pointed to the spot. Mattocks converted the penalty.
But RSL pulled even with nine minutes to play when Joao Plata ran onto a through ball from Kyle Beckerman and smashed it past Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted to the near post for his team-leading eighth goal of the campaign.
"I would have liked to see us be better in the final third, maybe, in the first 45 minutes. Then, after we got a couple of changes, it injected some energy into it. A little bit of threading behind [their defense] opened things up. It was much more attractive in the second half. We wanted three points, and we got one," said RSL head coach Jeff Cassar.
"We really had them back for the first 20 minutes. We were putting the ball in really dangerous spaces, and then they countered and became dangerous a couple of times. They gained some momentum there. We need that little bit of extra brilliance in the attacking third, whether it's a better final pass or a better shot -- we're just lacking that."
Montreal, meanwhile, fell to the Columbus Crew, 2-1, at Crew Stadium last Saturday, the side's third consecutive defeat in league play.
The Impact managed to snag the lead in the 36th minute after midfielder Justin Mapp found Marco Di Vaio near the top of the box, where the Italian striker turned his defender inside out and placed his shot low to the far post.
But Crew midfielder Bernardo Anor struck twice in the 56th and 75th minute to hand his team all three points.
Anor gave his team the lead when he ripped a strike on target from the top of the box that took a deflection and wound up in behind Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush.
Anor then put his team up for good 15 minutes from time through his fourth goal of the season, when the Venezuelan intercepted a ball at midfield and dribbled to about 25 yards out before driving a bullet far side.
"In the run of play, I think we had some clear looks to make it 2-0, but we couldn't capitalize," said Impact head coach Frank Klopas. "I think we lost the game in the midfield today. We weren't quick enough on the ball. We didn't step up on Anor and he scored two great goals."
Defender Heath Pearce lamented his team's inability to hold the lead.
"I'm at a loss for words," added Pearce. "We have to find a way to keep going, whether its going our way or not. It feels like we've been swimming against the current since the start of the season. It's a really tough time."
Thursday's clash will be the first of the season between the sides, which last met on May 11, 2013 when Montreal claimed a 3-2 win over RSL at Stade Saputo.