Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Stadium: Rio Tinto Stadium – Friday, July 22 – 23:00 ET (04:00 BST)
Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – SJ Earthquakes 3/1
RSL come into the contest in fourth place in the West, but are only a point above the playoff line, so there is no time for complacency as Jeff Cassar’s men look to make a swift return to the postseason.
The worry for Real Salt Lake coming into this one is that they’ve not won in their last five outings. They have drawn their last three home games and have only scored twice in their last five matches.
Fatigue could also be a worry as RSL faced off against Italian club Inter Milan in a friendly on Tuesday night, leaving them with just 72 hours to recover for Friday’s contest.
They will see Friday’s game as the perfect chance to recover and get back on track, but another poor performance would turn a small blip into a real concern, with back-to-back road games to Eastern Conference sides coming up after this one.
San Jose will arrive at Rio Tinto Stadium in high spirits. They pulled off a remarkable victory last weekend by ending a seven-game winless run against Toronto FC, despite playing 40 minutes with nine men.
Dominic Kinnear knows his side must now build on that inspiring display by picking up more points and will see Friday’s game as a winnable contest, with RSL struggling for form.
The worry for the Quakes is that they have a number of key players missing through injury. Squad depth will be tested here in what should be an intriguing battle between two sides desperately looking to enter the final stretch of the regular season in good form.
This will be the first meeting between the sides this season. They will face off again in San Jose on the the third-to-last weekend of the season, at which point their playoff chances will be a lot clearer.
RSL will remain without Emery Welshman and Sunday Stephen, who are both still ruled out through injury. On top of those two, Jamison Olave and Danilo Acosta are both doubts and may not be fit enough to play here.
San Jose picked up two red cards last weekend but both Anibal Godoy and Alberto Quintero have seen their suspensions rescinded so both are eligible. However, Dominic Kinnear has a long injury list to worry about, with seven players on the sidelines. Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi, Mark Sherrod, Bryan Meredith, Kofi Sarkodie, Marvell Wynne and Kip Colvey are all set to miss this one.
Real Salt Lake’s form: L/D/D/L/D
Key Stat: Travel sick – San Jose have failed to win any of their last 11 MLS games away from home.
Key Player: Chris Wondolowski – The Quakes star has not scored an MLS goal in three months but he will be desperate to end that run as soon as possible. This should be the sort of game that ‘Wondo’ thrives in. It is expected to be tight, but he only needs to find a yard of space inside the penalty area to hurt the RSL defence.
Real Salt Lake 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes – There is very little to choose between these sides heading into Friday’s game. RSL may suffer from their midweek friendly with Inter, but then San Jose have a number of key men out, so neither side looks in a strong position to kick on and win this match. A low-scoring draw looks most likely.