RSL may manage minutes in this key Western Conference tilt with the U.S. Open Cup final against D.C. United looming.Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis has grown used to rotating personnel while weighing the importance of multiple competitions. But the next four days present perhaps his toughest balancing act yet.
Salt Lake travels to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, a key match regarding Western Conference playoff positioning for both teams. But with RSL hosting D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup final Tuesday, Kreis could field a weakened squad against the Whitecaps.
Coming off back-to-back losses, Salt Lake remains in second place in the tight Western Conference. But with a weak stretch run, RSL could fall into the wildcard game or out of the playoff field entirely.
Vancouver, the first team on the outside looking in at the playoffs, is just seven points behind Salt Lake and possesses a game in hand. The Whitecaps snapped a five-game winless drought last weekend with an emphatic 3-0 triumph at the Montreal Impact.
Salt Lake will hope to have striker Alvaro Saborio back from a calf strain for this match or the Open Cup final. Although injuries and international duty have limited him to playing in just 13 of RSL's 30 league matches this season, the Costa Rican still has racked up 10 goals.
The Whitecaps, meanwhile, should have leading scorer Camilo (16 goals) back in the lineup after he was rested at the start last weekend, eventually coming off the bench in the second half and bagging a late brace.
This is the third meeting of the season between the conference foes. The teams played to a 1-1 draw at BC Place in April before RSL won 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium in May.