While the San Jose Earthquakes have been cooled off, Real Salt Lake might be heating up.
The 'Quakes look to rebound from their first MLS defeat in nearly two months Saturday night while trying to keep visiting Salt Lake from a third straight win.
San Jose (7-7-4) was feeling good about things amid a 4-0-2 stretch that ended with Wednesday's 3-1 loss at Minnesota United FC. The Earthquakes equalized in first-half stoppage time on Tommy Thompson's goal, but the Loons went ahead early in the second half and added some insurance to hand the visitors their first defeat since May 11 at New England.
Despite the setback, the 'Quakes still believe they're capable of returning to that winning form moving forward. They last dropped two in a row while opening the season with four consecutive defeats.
"We are working hard every week," midfielder Magnus Eriksson told the Earthquakes' official website. "The way we are playing at the moment, we are causing a lot of problems for our opponents. We feel confident in the way we play and, hopefully, we can bounce back and take three points on Saturday."
A big reason for San Jose's resurgence from a rough start is its current 6-0-1 stretch at home. The 'Quakes have not allowed a goal in each of their last two designated home matches and are amid a 3-0-1 stretch there against Salt Lake (8-8-2).
RSL is 0-2-1 in its last three league road contests, but 2-0-1 overall since the MLS break. It won 2-0 over Sporting Kansas City last weekend and held on for a 1-0 victory over Columbus on Wednesday, as Sam Johnson's 38th-minute goal was good enough.
"Six points in two games, four days apart, two shutouts," coach Mike Petke told Real Salt Lake's official website. "It's a compliment to my team."
Even though RSL came through with another victory, it wasn't the prettiest effort against a team that's struggling. However, it has the club above the playoff line in the Western Conference - one point ahead of San Jose - and confident it can win games in a variety of ways.
"Grinding out results or playing well, it doesn't matter," Salt Lake defender Brooks Lennon said. "We need to get three points no matter what."
While RSL is in good form, it could be minus Johnson for this contest. The team leader with eight goals, Johnson came off in the 46th minute with an apparent leg injury against the Crew. Defender Nedum Onuoha was also apparently injured Wednesday.