We Meet Again
This will be the third and final regular season meeting of the 2015 season between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City and 20th MLS match between the two clubs. Kansas City holds an 8-6-5 edge in the all-time series, but RSL is 1-0-1 this year against the fierce rivals including a win on June 21 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The two teams are set to square off again on August 12 in the semifinal of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Sporting Park.
Gold Cup Absences
Both teams will have players absent from the lineup due to the CONCACAF Gold Cup with Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando out of action for Real Salt Lake and Graham Zusi away for Sporting Kansas City. Although the U.S. lost to Jamaica in the semifinal on Wednesday, it will still face Panama in the third-place match on Saturday in Philadelphia, keeping the three players from playing on Friday night in league play.
With a slew of players away on international duty this month, RSL has managed a 1-1-1 record in MLS play, 3-1-1 overall with two wins in the U.S. Open Cup. Without Zusi, Sporting has won both of its league matches and its two U.S. Open Cup matches, too.
Pioneer Day Blitz
Real Salt Lake has hosted matches on Pioneer Day three times and on Pioneer Day weekend six times since entering the league in 2005. In those six weekend matches, RSL is 4-1-1, with a 2-0-1 record on the holiday itself.
There will be a firework show following the match, but if the four previous wins on Pioneer Day weekend are any indication, they may want to let a few of them off during the match as well. With wins of 3-0 in 2005 over FC Dallas, 4-2 in 2009 over FC Dallas, 4-0 in 2011 over San Jose and 3-1 last year against the Montreal Impact, there have been goal explosions for RSL in these matches.
Did I mention there will be fireworks after the match?
Sebastian Jaime’s run of four goals in five matches was interrupted last week when he served a one-match red-card suspension during RSL’s 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo, but he will be back in the Claret-and-Cobalt on Friday as he looks to extend his run of good form.
With his breakout has also come some standout performances from his countryman Javier Morales. In the last two matches he has one goal and two assists, but more pointedly in the 11 matches in which he has played all 90 minutes he has four goals and seven assists, accounting for all of his regular-season production.