SANDY -- For the second straight week, league leading Real Salt Lake will take to the pitch looking to fend off a team barking at its heels.
Tonight's clash between the Claret-and-Cobalt and Eastern Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City kicks off at 8 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium, with the Utah side looking to extend its 11-match unbeaten run.
Kansas City counters with a five-match unbeaten streak (3-0-2), as Sporting easily defeated Toronto FC 3-0 last weekend.
Salt Lake is coming off a decisive 3-0 victory over FC Dallas last weekend, its first-ever win in Texas, and hopes to keep its run of form despite a roster severely strained by international duty and injuries.
RSL will be without Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando, and Alvaro Saborio, who are representing their countries in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, while goalkeeper Josh Saunders (ACL surgery) and Carlos Salcedo (gallbladder surgery) are out of action after last weekend, joining Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Rich Balchan and John Stertzer on the Claret-and-Cobalt injury list.
Saunders, who has served as Rimando's primary back-up during international duty, was injured during the first half of RSL's match in Dallas last Saturday. Jeff Attinella made his RSL debut coming on in Saunders' place.
Attinella earned Major League Soccer's save of the week on Friday for his 88th minute save of Dallas' Ramon Nunez's snap header.
"Everything happened pretty quick," Attinella said earlier this week. "I knew when Nick was going to be gone there was always a slight possibility something can happen. I did my best to train hard and stay ready for the opportunity, and unfortunately for Josh -- we wish him all the best -- but luckily it went well for me, so I'm happy to get that under my feet."
Attinella will make the start in goal tonight, with Lalo Fernandez -- an RSL homegrown player -- on the bench for back-up duties.
Midfielder Javier Morales was also honored on Friday with the goal of the week for his cheeky nutmeg goal in the first half that pushed RSL to a 1-0 lead at the break.
Salt Lake is 5-7-3 vs. Kansas City all-time, holding a 4-2-1 mark in the Beehive State. The teams only met once last season, at Sporting Park in Kansas, with Sporting taking a 1-0 victory.