The defending champs will host the struggling Wizards.On Form
Real Salt Lake by Jeremy Horton: RSL continue to be one of the hottest teams in MLS at the moment. The winning streak is up to four straight, including a road win last week. Previously-injured Fabian Espindola came back with a bang, entering the Chivas match in the 80th minute and scoring the game-winner in the 90th. But perhaps the most important thing Real have going for them is that last week, they finally proved they can win an ugly match.
Kansas City by Keith Hickey: Kei Kamara has been the lone bright point for the Wizards this season. The journeyman striker has seemingly settled well in Kansas City, tallying five goals and sitting third in the MLS scorers table. Only 8 games into the season, he's already matched his personal league goals best, and if Kansas City can turn their fortunes around and give him better support, Kamara could be set for a breakout year.
Real Salt Lake: The midfield - usually the bright spot on this team - was a mess last week. The absence of Will Johnson and an early injury to Kyle Beckerman took a toll on the work rate and were big factors in RSL's possession troubles. And while Johnson will be back for the match against Kansas City, Beckerman won't be. That raises questions about what the team will do at the holding mid spot. There are options for sure, but the bottom line is none of those options are as good as Beckerman.
Kansas City: Just about everyone not from Sierra Leone. After an encouraging start, it's all gone pear shaped for the Wizards, who haven't won in seven games. More is required from key players like Jimmy Conrad, Davy Arnaud, and Josh Wolff. All former US Internationals, their experience will be absolutely vital if Kansas city are to pull themselves out of their current rut. The offense especially, must step up. No player other than Kei Kamara has scored since the opening match of the season, and longtime hero Josh Wolff has no goals and just one assist.. At the moment, the Wizards have the third worst record in the league, ahead of only expansion club Philadelphia and abysmal DC United.
Real Salt Lake: As mentioned above, the million-dollar question this week is what will RSL do at d-mid. Johnson, Ned Grabavoy, Jean Alexandre, and Robbie Russell are all options to take Beckerman's spot. Alexandre came in when Beckerman went down but didn't perform that well. Russell has been doing well at right back, so expect him to stay there. The most likely scenario involves Grabavoy filling in at d-mid which is his natural position with Johnson taking Grabs' spot on the outside of the diamond. Grabavoy's not Beckerman, but he can at least slow the bleeding considerably while Beckerman recovers.
Kansas City: Away from home and in poor form, Peter Vermes will be playing smart, looking for a draw at best. Expect the Wizards to play it tight and organized at the back, with Kei Kamara the target of any forward-looking attempts. Catching Real Salt Lake on the quick counter-attack could be their best plan of attack.
Real Salt Lake: A win this week would give RSL a franchise-record 5th consecutive win. The boys will be keen to have that honor belong to them. Another interesting tidbit is that KC is the last team to beat RSL at Rio Tinto, as they were totally dominant in a 2-0 win last season. RSL aren't talking about it publicly, but rest assured they are thinking revenge.
Kansas City: Circumstances, statistics, and general form are all conspiring against Kansas City in this fixture, but they'll be hoping for an unlikely upset. The Wizards can take heart from history, though. Around the same time last season, they snapped a three game winless streak with a 2-0 road victory over Salt Lake. They might be somewhat less enthused, however, to find out that since then, RSL hasn't lost a single game at home. Whichever way you cut it, this is going to be a difficult game for Kansas City to take points from.
Real Salt Lake: The Wizards seem to have Rio Tinto figured out, but this Wizards team is not the same one that trounced Real last season. KC have a league-low 2 road goals this season. For the second week in a row, Jason Kreis will challenge his team to earn the clean sheet, and they should succeed this time: Kansas City's offense is just too anemic on the road. Real Salt Lake 2-0 Kansas City Wizards.
Kansas City: 3-0 to the Wizards. Kansas City hasn't won in seven games, and hasn't picked up a single point on the road this season, while Salt Lake have won their last four on the trot, and are undefeated at Rio Tinto. They've also managed at least two goals in every home game this season. This game could be a long, uncomfortable 90 minutes for the Wizards faithful.
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