After a lengthy international break for both sides, Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City will look to shake off the rust in an integral late season matchup. Both teams lost their matches before the break and will need to accumulate points from the last two fixtures to secure playoff berths. This match will be the latest big match between the rivals and it could be a potential first-round playoff match this year.
Tim Melia will be in goal for Sporting come Sunday afternoon. The former RSL product has secured his spot in SKC’s lineup this season and solidified himself among one of the better goalkeepers in MLS. The 2015 MLS Comeback player of the year has had some injuries throughout the season, but he has once again made a strong comeback to help his side make a late season surge.
The key cog in the Sporting back-line is local fan favorite and club captain Matt Besler. The 29 year old Kansas native has had a unique season so far. Besler has found himself on the bench the last couple of MLS matches, but started for the United States last week against New Zealand. Besler has been a storyline this year for his club as he has made the least amount of starts for SKC since 2010. It is possible he may start against Real, but it is not as guaranteed as it used to be. Along with Besler, Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes will have Nuno Coelho, Ike Opara and Kevin Ellis to choose from for his center-back pairing. Jimmy Medranda and Saad Abdul-Salaam will patrol the fullback positions.
Graham Zusi will look to make a start again after he had missed a couple of matches through injury, before making a sub appearance against New England Revolution two weeks ago. Zusi has said he feels healthy and ready to help his side make a late season run. The much maligned Benny Feilhaber will join Zusi looking to add to his 12 assists on the campaign, good for 3rd league-wide. Roger Espinoza, Paulo Nagamura and Soni Mustivar will likely provide the depth in the middle of the park while Zusi and Feilhaber play on the wings. Jacob Peterson would be a favorite to make an appearance as an impact sub if needed.
The man who “hates RSL”, will look to spearhead the SKC attack. Dom Dwyer rates amongst the league’s best goal scorers and has a total of 16 on the year, which makes him tied for 3rd in MLS. Dwyer will be up for the occasion along with everyone else on the pitch that makes the rivalry so heated. It will be integral to keep his chances as limited as possible, because he knows how to find the back of the net. 23 year old Designated player Diego Rubio will likely make an appearance to support or replace Dwyer towards the latter stages of the match depending on the scenario.