Sporting Kansas City-Real Salt Lake Preview
Both Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake are doing all they can to move over the playoff line in the Western Conference.
Those pursuits continue Saturday night, when Kansas City again tries to win back-to-back games for the first time this season and keep Salt Lake from recording a third consecutive league home victory.
Entering this weekend's matches, Real Salt Lake (6-8-2) is one point out of playoff position in the West. Sporting (4-5-7), meanwhile, is one point back of RSL in the conference table.
Kansas City has been the better of the two squads overall at the moment while amid a 1-0-2 stretch. SKC recorded its first league road triumph of 2019, 1-0 at Columbus last weekend. Felipe Gutierrez scored in the 48th minute, and Sporting made it hold up for a much-needed three points.
"We battled, we competed, we put our bodies on the line, and we figured out how to get a result," goalkeeper Tim Melia told Sporting Kansas City's official website. "It is something we haven't been doing this year. I hope (that victory) is a step in the right direction."
While Sporting has some momentum heading this weekend's contest, it's still dealing with some injuries to a bevy of key performers. Striker Jimmy Russell (hamstring) remains out while the status of All-Star defender Graham Zusi (adductor strain), according SKC's official website, is uncertain.
Kansas City last won consecutive league games in October of last season, but feels good about things following least weekend's win.
"We've got to use what we've been doing thus far as a building block to move forward and take the next step," Kansas City coach Peter Vermes said. "We haven't achieved anything yet. We've got a long way to go."
SKC has earned five points in its last three league matches with Real Salt Lake, which avoided a third straight overall MLS defeat by coming out of the recent break with a 1-1 draw at Chicago last Saturday. After going down 1-0 in the fifth minute, RSL rebounded and drew level on Albert Rusnak's successful penalty kick in the 33rd minute.
"Resiliency, and the composure to fight back was great," coach Mike Petke told Salt Lake's official website.
"It shows we have the resilience to go down early, then fight back into the game."
RSL now returns home, where it outscored Toronto FC and reigning MLS champion Atlanta United FC 5-1 in winning consecutive league contests at Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time in 2019.
Rusnak, though, has scored just one of his team-leading six MLS goals at home this season.
Updated June 28, 2019