SANDY — Real Salt Lake will host Sporting Kansas City Sunday night, with both teams jockeying for position in the Western Conference standings.
“I think it’s going to be a battle. I think it’s two teams that are going to try and impose their will on each other,” said RSL manager Jeff Cassar, who wants his guys to carry the second-half momentum from the 2-1 Open Cup win Tuesday. “We’re going to have to come out strong. We’re going to have out like we did in the second half, play with urgency, play with passion in front of our home fans and walk away with three points and getting ourselves closer to the top.”
It’s no secret that Sporting are keen to turn up the offense and keep the pressure on RSL. Cassar said his team will combat them with the same strategy, as well as keeping the ball in RSL possession.
“We’re going to do it ourselves. We’re going to be better with the ball because if they don’t have the ball they can’t attack,” said Cassar.
Nick Rimando, The ‘Wall of the Wasatch,’ echoed Cassar’s breakdown of the Sporting matchup, adding that until there’s a trophy on the line (again) it’s just another game.
“I think it’s two good teams going after each other. Two teams that like to fight on the field and do whatever they can to get their points,” said Rimando. “If it’s here or in Kansas City, it’s just another game. Until there is a trophy on the line, I think it’s just another game to continue to improve and get where we want to be.”
Sunday will be the club's third match of the season to fall on the Sabbath, and taking into account Father's Day, Rimando is hopeful that the droves of supporters will fill Rio Tinto for an entertaining clash.
“I hope the turnout is great,” said Rimando. “You throw in a Sunday game in Utah it could be challenging at times, and that includes Father's Day. It’s a later match, so hopefully we get that late crowd of supporters because it’s going to be a great game.”
On Sunday, RSL will likely be without veteran defender Jamison Olave, whom Cassar admitted isn’t quite 90 minutes fit.
“He’s not game ready. Not yet. He’s improving, getting healthier, getting stronger, but he’s not quite there yet,” said Cassar.
RSL will also look to end a scoring drought in MLS play Sunday as the club has racked up just 13 goals through 15 games in 2015. That’s in contrast to 25 goals through 15 games in 2014.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Sandy.
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