Sandy, UT – The top two teams in MLS square off at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday in what could be a preview of the 2013 MLS Cup as Sporting Kansas City takes on Real Salt Lake.
RSL owns the best record in the league and is unbeaten in its last 11 games across all competitions, outscoring the opposition in that time by a score of 30-10.
Salt Lake has kept five clean sheets during that span, but head coach Jason Kreis will see his side tested on Saturday by a strong Sporting side.
Kansas City is coming off of a 3-0 home win against Toronto FC that saw Sooney Saad net two of the goals while Toronto was reduced to 10 men in the 56th minute due to a Reggie Lambe red card.
TFC netminder Joe Bendik made seven saves to lessen the damage, and Sporting head coach Peter Vermes came away from the match pleased with his side.
"Regardless of the guy that got red carded, I thought that we were excellent in possession," Vermes said after the match. "Very seldom did we make the wrong choice in where we played the ball. I think they had one major chance. After that I don't remember anything else happening."
The result extended Sporting's unbeaten run to five games and kept the club perched atop the Eastern Conference.
Salt Lake is also coming off of a strong performance having turned back second-place FC Dallas, 3-0, with a goal and two assists from Javier Morales for the club's first win in the state of Texas in 22 games.
Morales has been a driving force behind the success of RSL in the past few weeks, recording three goals and six assists in his last six matches.
The contributions of Morales have been vital with the club missing four key players due to international duty as Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio are away at the Gold Cup.
But despite the absences, Salt Lake was able to come away with an impressive win thanks in large part to the coaching staff, according to Morales.
"We have to give credit to the coaching staff," Morales said. "We lose four guys. One guy is out with a red card, so we're missing five guys. We play the second place team in the league and we beat them in their home 3-0. That is huge. We play for the coaches and we play for the team."
Salt Lake will also be without goalkeeper Josh Saunders and defender Carlos Salcedo due to injury, while Sporting defender Matt Besler was added to the Gold Cup roster for the United States and will miss out on Saturday's match.