Real Salt Lake—winless in five matches in MLS play—will host the San Jose Earthquakes in a crucial Western Conference match-up that could potentially see RSL drop below the red line with a loss or a draw.
San Jose (6-6-7, 25 points) sits in eighth place in the west while RSL (8-6-6, 30 points) finds themselves in fourth place after slipping below the now-third-place LA Galaxy. However, RSL is only one point clear of fifth-place Vancouver and sixth-place Portland, who are both tied with 29 points.
RSL, while still unbeaten at home, have drawn their last three home games and have managed to only score twice in their last five outings. San Jose isn’t in the best form either, as they just got their first win last weekend since May 11. They have one win, two losses, and two draws in their last five showings.
If RSL is going to snap out of their mid-season funk, this would be the ideal time to do it. After the match against the Quakes, they have tough back-to-back road games, visiting Philadelphia on July 31 and Toronto on August 3 before returning home to host Chicago on August 6.
Salt Lake holds the edge in the all-time series with nine wins, eight draws and eight losses, outscoring the Earthquakes 36 to 32.
The last time they met was in San Jose at Avaya Stadium in September of last year, when Perez Garcia nabbed the game winner in the 87th minute to give the Earthquakes all three points with a 1-0 victory as RSL watched their hopes for playoff qualification slip away.
Key players and lineups
Chris Wondolowski—San Jose’s leading scorer—hasn’t found the back of the net since April when they beat Sporting Kansas City by a score of 1-0. He missed quite a few games due to Copa America duty with the national team, and we know he’s going to be hungry to get back to his scoring ways. With only seven goals and two assists to his name this season, he’ll be looking to sneak in behind the RSL defense and pounce on any opportunity that comes his way.
Look for RSL to shore up their defense to build off of the clean sheet they earned in the 0-0 draw against New England last weekend. With Justen Glad and Aaron Maund holding down the center back positions, they’ll be especially wary of Wondo and Quincy Amarikwa. Hopefully the RSL backline can limit the service into the box, and build from the back to push the ball into San Jose’s defensive third where the potent attacking trio of Joao Plata, Yura Movsisyan, and Burrito Martinez can work their magic.
After having two red cards rescinded from their 2-1 win against Toronto FC last Saturday, the Quakes will be relieved to have midfielders Anibal Godoy and Alberto Quintero in their lineup, which already seems to be riddled with injuries. San Jose will be without Clarence Goodson (back surgery, out for rest of season), Mark Sherrod (knee), Marc Pelosi (knee surgery), Marvell Wynne (groin), Bryan Meredith (abdominal strain), and Kofi Sarkodie (ankle).
RSL is still without Emery Welshman and Sunny who are both still sidelined with injuries, as well as Jamison Olave who is doubtful for this match with a calf injury.
RSL expected lineup: Rimando; Phillips, Glad, Maund, Beltran; Beckerman, Morales, Mulholland; Plata, Movsisyan, Martinez
SJ expected lineup: Bingham; Francis, Stewart, Bernardez, Cato; Dawkins, Godoy, Alashe, Quintero; Amarikwa, Wondolowski