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Preview: Real Salt Lake at San Jose Earthquakes

SANDY, Utah (Saturday, September 26, 2015) – Real Salt Lake hits the road Sunday afternoon in a critical contest against the San Jose Earthquakes, seeking to continue its red-hot form and close its current three-point gap in pursuit of a Western Conference playoff berth, facing the Bay Area side for the third time this year in a nationally-televised 5:00 p.m. MT kickoff.  Pre-game coverage airs live on ESPN700 AM at 4:00 p.m. MT, while Fox Sports 1 presents the game as part of its national MLS #SoccerSunday coverage with John Strong, Alexi Lalas and Julie Stewart-Binks.

RSL enters Sunday on a late-season season surge, posting a 4-1-1 mark across all competitions in the last five weeks, moving up from the Western Conference cellar to just three points behind the Portland Timbers for the sixth and final postseason berth. Standing between RSL and Portland is San Jose, who have played one more game than either team, occupying 7th place in the West, one point behind the Timbers and two points ahead of RSL.

RSL won at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium earlier this year, the club’s 1-0 win on Easter Sunday on national TV made possible by a shutout from GK Nick Rimando and a scintillating MLS Goal of the Week winner from MF Javier Morales, who slammed home the rebound of his own 25-yard free kick just before halftime to extend RSL’s unbeaten run in San Jose to four games. A month later, the clubs drew 1-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium, as RSL captured at least a point in 16 of its last 21 matches all-time against the Earthquakes.

How to Follow Real Salt Lake @ San Jose Earthquakes

•   Coverage Begins: 5:00 p.m. MT

•   TV: Fox Sports 1 – John Strong, Alexi Lalas & Julie Stewart-Binks

•   English Radio: ESPN700 AM (4:00 p.m. MT) – Bill Riley & Brian Kamler

•   Spanish Radio: 102.3 La Gran D FM / 1600 AM – Nelson Moran & Fernando Hortal

•   Online: The @RealSaltLake Twitter feed provides updates

Game Guide for Sunday’s RSL @ San Jose Matchup Now Available Online

Following is the link to the Adobe PDF version of the MLS Game Guide in advance of Sunday’s contest between Real Salt Lake and San Jose.

Click here to download the PDF version of the MLS Game Guide for Sunday’s RSL @ San Jose matchup

RSL hits the road after winning a pair of home games this week in separate competitions. Last Saturday, a record crowd of 21,004 witnessed a comprehensive 3-0 dismantling of the LA Galaxy, as FW Devon Sandoval scored two goals off assists from Javier Morales and Juan Manuel Martinez, including the game-winner in the third minute. Morales provided a goal and an assist for the second consecutive MLS match, giving the “maestro” three goals in his last four games and a club-high 8 goals and 11 assists this season, just 1 goal and 4 assists away from career highs in both categories.

Thursday night in the 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League, Morales and Martinez engineered a come-from-behind victory against Salvadoran power Santa Tecla FC, as “El Burrito” scored the game-winner on a give-and-go with Morales just four minutes after the ninth-year Argentine set up Olmes Garcia’s equalizer. With the win, RSL moves three points clear in the Group G standings of Guatemalan side Municipal, which visits Utah on October 20 needing a win to advance to next February’s SCCL Quarterfinal Stage. With a win or draw at home – where RSL is now 7-1-1 all-time in the continental competition – the Claret-and-Cobalt would advance.

RSL won 3-1 two weeks ago in Houston, the road win snapping an eight-game losing streak away from Utah in Major League Soccer action. That match also saw Morales, Sandoval and Martinez score, while GK Nick Rimando was denied career shutout 123 on a dubious penalty call, one week before capturing the clean sheet against LA to extend his all-time league mark in the category.

At Rio Tinto Stadium this season, RSL is now 11-2-6 across all competitions, including a trio of home wins in the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Since the beginning of 2008, RSL boasts a 97-20-39 mark in its last 156 home games (all comps) in that span, during which it has outscored opponents by 169 goals (282/113), with a 77-15-36 regular-season mark (230/92), a 7-1-1 CCL record (19/6), 5-2-2 in playoffs (11/4) and an 8-2-0 ledger in the Open Cup (21/10).

In San Jose, RSL could welcome the return of MF Luis Silva, who left the Houston game after 27 minutes due to a left calf strain and has missed the LA Galaxy and Santa Tecla home matches, but returned to training this week. DF Chris Schuler is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his ankle/foot two weeks ago.