by Ethan Gomberg
Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday will host a titanic battle for first place in the Western Conference and in the league.
San Jose (9-3-3) is coming off a dramatic, late PK win over Colorado mid-week. RSL(10-4-2) is coming off a dramatic, deflating 3-2 loss to near basement dwelling but defending Cup champions, Los Angeles.
RSL and San Jose have been sharing the top spot in MLS almost all season.
San Jose defeated Real Salt Lake last time the two played, a home match for the Quakes.
RSL is hoping to return the favor.
San Jose is almost at full strength coming into the battle in Utah.
Top scorer Chris Wondolowski will continue to be a ever constant threat for RSL. Goalie Jon Busch has been in great form and will continue to have a strong presence in the back-line.
Real Salt Lake will be looking for answers from its formerly infallible back line. Poor possession and back passes by Tony Beltran and Jamison Olave led to at least two goals in the surprise 2-3 homw loss to Los Angeles.
Olave may be too injured and/or ill to compete against SJ, so a make shift defense may be in order. Unfortunately, usual center back backup Chris Schuler is still recuperating from a leg injury and unable to help out. It may fall to Chris Wingert, a usual left back to slide centrally and newly acquired Kenny Mansally getting the start in Wingert’s common position.
This is not exactly the best situation for the Utah side, but playing at their home stadium, Rio Tinto and with Javier Morales possibly starting, they may yet have a chance.