While things have been clicking for Real Salt Lake, the road-challenged San Jose Earthquakes continue to fade.
Salt Lake tries to add to the Earthquakes' woes Saturday night as these Western Conference rivals meet at Rio Tinto Stadium.
RSL (6-5-3), which is 3-1-1 in its last five league games, picked up another victory by beating Atlanta 3-2 in extra time in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup match. Kyle Beckerman gave the club an early lead in the third minute and Devon Sandoval and Khari Stephenson also scored.
"We never like losing," Stephenson said. "It's a home game, and we never want to lose at home. Everyone tightened up the screws and came out hard and got the job done."
Sandoval earned high praise from coach Jason Kreis.
"I'd like to put a jar on him because he was working extremely hard," Kreis said. "I did feel like he had gone through a lull over the past couple of weeks, where his fitness level, I think, dropped a little bit, but tonight he proved me absolutely wrong. He worked extremely hard, covered an unbelievable amount of ground."
RSL, which had dropped three straight in the series before posting a season-opening 2-0 road win over the Earthquakes on March 3, now tries to get the best of them again.
San Jose, 1-5-5 over its last 11 matches, has been outscored 7-1 during an 0-3-1 stretch. The Earthquakes struggled again Tuesday, dropping to 0-5-2 on the road with a 1-0 loss to Charleston in U.S. Open Cup play.
San Jose (3-5-6 in league play) has been outscored 12-3 as the visiting club.
"You look at the game as a whole, we missed a ton of chances again," coach Frank Yallop told the league's official website. "They stuck to the task, stopped us from scoring and, in the end, got their goal. Disappointing. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we've got to soldier on. We've got to keep going."
San Jose, averaging 0.93 goals to rank fifth-worst in MLS, has failed to score in six of its 15 overall matches this season.
"They shut us out, and any time you shut someone out, you have a good chance of winning," forward Steven Lenhart said. "I think we need to believe in each other, and just tie together every part of our game."
In its most recent MLS match, San Jose fell 1-0 at FC Dallas last Saturday. The Earthquakes recorded 17 shots - including six on goal - but couldn't get anything past Raul Fernandez.
"We had plenty of chances, especially in the second half," Yallop said. "It's just the way our season's going right now. ... We aren't getting many breaks."
Things aren't about to get any easier for San Jose with defender Victor Bernardez unavailable. The Honduras native will begin serving a two-game suspension for his reckless play last weekend.