The best of the West takes aim at the best of the East.
Real Salt Lake takes its franchise-best start on the road tonight to take on unbeaten Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be televised live on CW30.
"There's no doubt that Kansas City is a very, very good team," Real boss Jason Kreis said immediately following last weekend's 2-0 result against archrival Colorado. "Even last year they caused us some real problems with their tactics. The good thing is that now we have a week to prepare for it. We also had what was a very poor performance last year at Kansas City to draw off of, so we've got areas for improvement and we've got a lot of reasons why we should go there and be extremely motivated."
Salt Lake (5-1-0, 15 points) split the two-match season series with Kansas City (5-0-0, 15) last season, with each team winning at home by a shutout. That was typical of the tightly contested 14-match series between the two teams, which Sporting leads 6-5-3.
After running a three-match, eight-day gauntlet with a full value nine points - a series that culminated with the result against the Rapids - Real has enjoyed more preparation time to specifically focus on tonight's match against the early-season eastern leaders.
First-choice strike partners ÃÅlvaro SaborÃo and Fabian EspÃndola each tallied during that Saturday win, solidifying themselves as one of Major League Soccer's premier strike teams.
"I'm really amazed at both Fabian EspÃndola and ÃÅlvaro SaborÃo -- to me, they both looked extremely alert and bright tonight," Kreis said. "I'm pleased that they both got on the score board, but probably more pleased with their defensive effort. When they are that in tune for giving for the team we almost always get results."
EspÃndola's strike against the Rapids gave him 29 career goals with RSL, tying Robbie Findley for the most goals in franchise history.
Sporting has allowed just one tally in five matches, a free kick by FC Dallas' Ricardo Villar, and has not allowed a shot on goal in 245 minutes.
"They (RSL) are a very good team and have a lot of consistent qualities the last few years, because there are a lot of consistent guys on their roster," Kansas City boss Peter Vermes told the Kansas City Star. "It's going to be a major test for us, for sure, but it's still just the sixth game of the season."