With a full week's worth of training behind them after a tough 1-0 loss at Kansas City, and injury woes appearing to lessen, Real Salt Lake looks to create a margin of distance on the Western Conference table tonight.
Real takes aim at the San Jose Earthquakes tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The match, which pits the top two Western point earners, will be televised live on KTVX, and kicks off the Lions' second three-match, eight-day marathon of the season.
Salt Lake (5-2-0, 15) has enjoyed a particularly positive run of form against San Jose (4-1-1, 13) in recent years, posting a 3-0-2 mark against the Earthquakes in the last five meetings. RSL has won back-to-back road games at Buck Shaw, and has shut out San Jose in four consecutive matches dating back to the 2010 season opener.
Last season's final meeting at Rio Tinto Stadium ended in a bit of controversy after Alvaro Saborio drew a penalty kick against San Jose defender Bobby Burling in the 60th minute. Replays clearly showed negligible contact on the play, but Burling was sent off and Saborio converted the kick as the home side poured in four goals in the final half-hour against the then 10-man 'Quakes. San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch made an obscene gesture at the crowd and had words with RSL boss Jason Kreis following the match.
The key for tonight's match for RSL is keeping San Jose's mercurial forward Chris Wondolowski from erupting. Wondo, as he's known around Major League Soccer, has seven goals in six matches this year, and has 41 regular-season MLS goals during the past two-plus seasons, leading the league in scoring in 2010 and sharing the lead in 2011.