It's time for Real Salt Lake to get back to work.
With the lengthy international window at last in the rearview mirror, RSL looks to keep the momentum at its back as it gears up for a key five-match, 19-day stretch that culminates with a Sandy showdown against Seattle.
That stretch gets under way tonight in Carson, Calif., when Real takes on Chivas USA at Home Depot Center. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m.
Real (9-3-2, 29 points) leads the Western Conference, and league overall, and carries a six-match unbeaten streak into tonight's game. With Salt Lake at less than full strength for much of their current streak, tonight could mark the beginning of a comeback of sorts. All four players, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Will Johnson, and Alvaro Saborio, that played with their respective national teams during the break are back and have trained with the team for most of the week.
In addition, defender Chris Wingert is back from injury, and central midfielder Javier Morales will undoubtedly see the pitch for with the first team for the first time since May 9.
In fact, if all goes according to plan, the teams entire first choice XI, which has played exactly 59 total minutes together this season, could take to the pitch together as RSL kicks off a bruising three-match, eight-day run against the Goats.
Chivas comes into tonight's match with a 4-6-3 mark, and is just 1-5-1 at home, having been outscored 7-3 in Carson. One of those four wins, however, came on March 24, when the Goats handed RSL its lone home defeat this season, scoring a 72nd minute goal in a 1-0 victory. That result snapped a five-match unbeaten run by RSL in the series. Chivas is currently riding a four-match MLS unbeaten streak (1-0-3), having drawn Seattle (1-1), New York (1-1) and San Jose (1-1), around a win over Los Angeles (1-0).
Salt Lake will host Los Angeles (Wednesday) and San Jose (June 23) next week, as the Utah side hits the midway point of its 34-match regular season schedule.