The Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake have emerged as two of the best teams in the Western Conference in recent years, and they will tangle once more at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.
Both teams are coming off wins in their last outing, with Salt Lake opening a three-game homestand by securing a 1-0 win over Chivas USA, while the Galaxy downed Sporting Kansas City, 2-0.
Three points was important for both sides, but maybe more crucial is how both arrived at the result.
For the Galaxy, the win over Sporting saw the team's back line come together for the first time all season, while Landon Donovan showed flashes of his old form as he netted one goal and set up another in the win.
For the first time this season, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was able to put out a back line of Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant and Sean Franklin, which Dunivant felt was a big reason why the club was able to keep a clean sheet.
"We know each other well, we have always played well together, and it has only gotten stronger over time," Dunivant said. "It was nice to have the group back and we have a lot of good players on this team so, it's not like we can't have other guys in there. This four has done very well and tonight was another example."
Donovan's performance was another bright spot, but the Galaxy could be short on attacking options after the club revealed on Friday that both Donovan and fellow forward Robbie Keane are questionable because of injury problems.
The Unites States international suffered a leg strain in the win over Sporting and hasn't trained this week, while Keane also may need to be replaced in the lineup as he continues to battle an ankle issue.
Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis was encouraged by the performance of his defense, but still feels they gave away too many chances in the win over Chivas.
"I still think it's coming together," said Kreis when asked about his team's play in defense. "I really felt that there were still too many clear-cut chances against us tonight in the first half. I think there was one or two that were really clear-cut against us; I think that you are ready for that when you're winning a game and its late in the match, but if it's happening in the first half then I think we need to look at it and say how can we tighten the ship up a little bit."
Kreis has goalkeeper Nick Rimando to thank for preserving the clean sheet after he saved a first-half penalty kick prior to Javier Morales scoring the lone goal shortly after halftime.
The victory was a good way to start the three-game home stretch, and Rimando is hoping his team can carry that momentum into its next two games at home.
"We don't want to chase three points too much, especially at home," Rimando said. "We have to keep on going, though. This is only one game out of a three- game stretch. The goal is nine points, but I don't think it's out of our reach if we continue to play like this."