SANDY— Second-place Real Salt Lake (12-7-3, 39 points – 2nd in West) will look to vanquish the third-place Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9-6-7, 34 points – 3rd in West) in a battle of Western Conference heavyweights this Friday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The lone Friday match of the 2012 season kicks off at 7:00 p.m., with pre-match excitement beginning at 5:00 p.m. at the Carnival Real festival on the stadium’s East Lawn.
The Claret-and-Cobalt is undefeated in three games at home this month, most recently clinching the club’s sixth-straight Rocky Mountain Cup with a 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, July 21.
The win moved RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando into second-place all-time on the MLS career wins and saw FW Alvaro Saborío score his team-leading 11th goal of the season.
The Whitecaps enter Utah coming off an impressive 2-1 home win over league-leading San Jose, getting goals from recently acquired MF’s Dane Richards and Barry Robson to top the ‘Quakes. The result ended Vancouver’s four-match winless streak and moved the ‘Caps into third-place in the Western Conference.
Both teams’ captains played exceptionally well in the MLS All-Stars’ 3-2 win over UEFA Champions League title-holders Chelsea FC Wednesday night. RSL captain Kyle Beckerman came on as a second-half substitute, playing 34 minutes and providing the assist on Eddie Johnson’s stoppage time winner.
Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit was one of only three MLS players to play the entire 90 minutes on Wednesday, unexpectedly going a full shift after Sporting Kansas City center back Aurelien Collin went down with an injury in the first half.
It’s uncertain whether or not Beckerman and DeMerit will feature on Friday given their participation in Wednesday’s All-Star Game and – in Beckerman’s case – RSL’s upcoming CONCACAF Champions League opener at Costa Rican club C.S. Herediano next Tuesday.
Friday’s match is just the third ever meeting between Real Salt Lake and the ‘Caps, with RSL going 1-1-0 in its two previous games against Vancouver. RSL won the first-ever meeting on June 4, 2011 at Rio Tinto Stadium but dropped the second meeting 3-0 at BC Place.