Harrison, NJ – Real Salt Lake will hope to rebound from a disappointing defeat on Saturday when it heads to Red Bull Arena for a meeting with Red Bull New York.
The Claret and Cobalt held a one-goal lead over Sporting Kansas City at Rio Tinto Stadium with less than 30 minutes to go last weekend, but a harsh red card decision to send Chris Wingert to the dressing room saw the match turn in Sporting's favor.
With an extra man, the visitors seized control of the affair, equalizing shortly after the sending off through Soony Saad before Ike Opara bagged a dramatic winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis was none too please with the outcome, but he stressed the importance of putting the disappointment in the club's rearview.
"We have to move on quickly," Kreis said after the match. "We've had a lot of really good runs and again tonight, they battled really hard. We have to move on quickly and hopefully in the majority of the games, the referee will get the decisions right. And hopefully referees will know to not give seven minutes of extra time when he puts out (five). These are difficult things to keep track of, I guess."
The result put an end to Salt Lake's eight-match unbeaten run and also saw the club's lead atop the Western Conference shrink to three points.
While RSL has been enjoying the view from the top of the overall MLS table, New York has been attempting to claw its way to the top of the Eastern Conference.
The Red Bulls enjoyed a seven-match unbeaten run from April 20 to May 26 but followed the streak with three losses from its next four contests.
In the two games since, New York has kept two clean sheets, scored four goals and garnered four points to keep the club within four points of first-place Sporting.
And as if New York's position in the table did not offer enough incentive to claim maximum points on Saturday, the contest will be the first match against a former club for a trio of Red Bull stars.
Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave and Jonny Steele all joined the Red Bulls from RSL in the offseason, giving Saturday's tilt a bit of added spice as they hope to send the visitors home empty-handed.
"It's going to be special," Espindola told New York's official website. "I know that they're a great team. They're going to play and be a tough team to beat.
"Everything about Real Salt Lake was good for me. I have a lot of good things from my time there and I'm grateful for that team."
Like Espindola, Steele had nothing but good things to say about his time in Sandy, Utah, but he also underlined his commitment to helping New York get over its title drought in MLS.
"Salt Lake is a small franchise but they do things right and things are professional," Steele told the club's website. "All around they've got great coaches and they have been successful. Then you come here, I guess it is one of the biggest franchises in the league, but at the end of the day we are here to win a championship and do things right. And we are working hard to achieve it."