Salt Lake will try for the longest season-opening unbeaten streak in franchise history while avenging its bitter defeat from December when it returns to Kansas City on Saturday night.
Real Salt Lake (2-0-2) is getting a quick rematch with the team that denied it a second league crown in five seasons. Sporting KC outscored RSL 7-6 in a 10-round penalty kick shootout Dec. 7 to claim its second title in franchise history and first since 2000.
The goaltender who made two key saves in that shootout, Jimmy Nielsen, is retired but the player who provided the winning shot and his team's lone goal in regulation, Aurelien Collin, is still with Kansas City (2-1-1).
So is Dom Dwyer, who made his feelings about Salt Lake very clear after scoring a tiebreaking goal in stoppage time in last Saturday's 3-2 win at Colorado.
"I hate them very much," he said on the team's postgame show.
RSL's Nat Borchers told the league's website in response Tuesday, "I like the talk. I like when teams don't like each other. And we don't like Kansas City just as much as they don't like us."
The bad blood likely stems from a pair of physical matches last season.
The MLS Cup finals featured a combined 40 fouls and five yellow cards. Kansas City's 2-1 road victory July 20 had 26 fouls, six yellow cards and one red card to RSL's Chris Wingert.
Real Salt Lake heads into this match after topping Toronto FC 3-0 last Saturday with Alvaro Saborio providing two goals. Saborio also scored the first goal in the MLS Cup finals but missed his only attempt in the shootout.
In between the win over Toronto and this game, Salt Lake had four players travel to Glendale, Ariz., for the United States' 2-all draw in an exhibition with Mexico on Wednesday. Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Luis Gil and goalkeeper Nick Rimando are expected to play Saturday but might have their minutes managed.
Graham Zusi and Matt Besler will likely play for Kansas City after appearing in that match.
RSL has started with a four-game unbeaten streak for the first time since it won four in a row to begin 2011. The club is winless in its last three games against Kansas City and has one win in nine all-time road contests in the series, including the MLS Cup finals.
Sporting KC is 5-0-3 in its past eight home games across all competitions since a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia on Sept. 27.
Kansas City has outscored opponents 10-4 in those games and blanked San Jose 1-0 in the most recent one March 22. Dwyer scored in that game on a penalty kick and has two of his club's five goals this season.
Real Salt Lake's eight goals are the second-most in the league and Saborio has a team-best three.
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