Preview: Sporting aims for second straight road win Saturday at Real Salt Lake

Sporting Kansas City at Real Salt Lake
Saturday, June 29, 2019 | 9 p.m. CT
Rio Tinto Stadium | Sandy, Utah
2019 MLS Regular Season | Match 17 of 34

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV | FOX Sports Kansas City
English TV | FOX Sports Midwest Plus
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM
Mobile | Sporting KC App, FOX Sports GO

Sporting KC App | By The Numbers | Five Things to Know | Videos
Match Notes | Media Guide | MatchCenter | FOX Sports GO Stream

Sporting Kansas City’s long and winding road swing will conclude Saturday with a visit to rivals Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Kickoff is slated for 9 p.m. CT with three hours of live television coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus. The Western Conference clash will also stream live on FOX Sports GO and air locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM, while the Sporting KC App will provide additional in-game updates.

Supporters are welcome to attend the final stop on Sporting’s Watch Party Palooza this Saturday at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd.). The special-edition watch party will feature prize giveaways, halftime experiences and multiple food and drink specials.

Set to play their fifth straight away game in all competitions, Sporting (4-5-7, 19 points) have moved within two points of playoff positioning after defeating Columbus Crew SC last Sunday. The 1-0 triumph gave Manager Peter Vermes’ side its first MLS road win of 2019 and its first clean sheet since mid-March, breaking a run of 16 competitive matches without a shutout.

Felipe Gutierrez bagged the decisive goal against Columbus to enter a three-way tie for the team scoring lead in MLS play. Gutierrez and forwards Krisztian Nemeth and Johnny Russell have tallied seven goals apiece, marking the first time in club history that three Kansas City players have hit seven league goals before the end of June.

Sporting grabbed their away win without the influential services of Russell, who sat out with a hamstring strain. The Scottish international is one of six Sporting players who will be sidelined Saturday alongside Jimmy Medranda (hamstring) and long-term absentees Roger Espinoza, Eric Hurtado, Jaylin Lindsey and Rodney Wallace. MLS All-Star defender Graham Zusi is listed as questionable with an adductor strain.

Real Salt Lake (6-8-2, 20 points) are coming off a 1-1 stalemate last Saturday at the Chicago Fire. Talisman Albert Rusnak found the back of the net for the visitors, notching his team-best sixth goal of the 2019 campaign. With a three-game MLS road trip now complete, RSL will return to the vaunted grounds of Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time since May 24, when they defeated reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta United FC by a 2-1 scoreline.

Led by spirited head coach Mike Petke, RSL boast a deep attacking corps to supplement Rusnak’s playmaking strengths. Breakout forward Sam Johnson has scored five goals of his own while Damir Kreilach (three goals, one assist), Sebastian Saucedo (two goals, two assists) and Corey Baird (one goal, two assists) have all done damage in 2019.

Venezuelan winger Jefferson Savarino (three goals, one assist) has also started regularly for RSL this season, but the promising 22-year-old will miss Saturday’s game due to Copa America duty in Brazil. At the opposite end of the age range, RSL's spine continues to run through 20-year veterans Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman, who rank first and second, respectively, in all-time MLS matches played.

Since the rivalry blossomed in 2013, Sporting and RSL have squared off 19 times in all competitions. Five of those meetings took place last year when Vermes’ men booted RSL out of both the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup Playoffs. The 2018 Western Conference Semifinals saw Sporting prevail 5-3 on aggregate, winning a 4-2 thriller in the decisive second leg at Children’s Mercy Park behind Daniel Salloi’s brace. The battle served as a rematch of the 2013 MLS Cup, an epic encounter in which Sporting edged RSL on penalty kicks to claim their second league championship.

RSL has held an upper hand in recent regular season meetings at Rio Tinto Stadium, going 6-1-5 in Sporting’s last 12 visits to the venue. The clubs have locked horns 34 times in all competitions since RSL entered MLS in 2005, splitting the series with 12 wins and 10 draws apiece.

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