Real Salt Lake-Wizards Preview

Real Salt Lake has a superb chance to gain a share of the

Western Conference lead. They’ll need to capitalize on a pair of

clubs out of playoff position to do so.

Salt Lake begins its quest to move closer to the top of the West

when they visit the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night.

RSL (10-4-4) is second in the conference, six points behind

first-place Los Angeles, which is idle in league play until Aug.

14.

Salt Lake can capitalize on the Galaxy’s time off with meetings

against Kansas City (5-8-4) followed by Wednesday’s visit to

expansion Philadelphia.

RSL is enjoying a 9-1-3 stretch, which includes a 4-1 home

victory over the Wizards on May 29. The club has also outscored

opponents 25-7 over the last 13 games, giving it a league-high 32

goals scored by 12 players.

Real showed off that scoring depth again last Saturday, as

Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley and Nelson Gonzalez found the net in

a 3-0 win over league-worst D.C. United.

Still, coach Jason Kreis feels there’s room for improvement.

“I don’t think we’ve been playing our best soccer of late,” he

told the team’s official website. “A lot of times you find in this

game that you get the result and all of the sudden the confidence

is back, and you are on a roll again.”

Salt Lake won 1-0 in the last matchup at Kansas City on Aug. 29,

2009, en route to winning its first MLS Cup title.

Wizards coach Peter Vermes disagrees with Kreis and feels Salt

Lake is the best team in MLS.

“As a team, we feel that right now they are playing the best

soccer in the league,” Vermes told the Wizards’ official website.

“They are a team that can break you down in many different ways,

and we’ve got to be prepared for all of them.

“It’s going to be a major challenge for us.”

Momentum is building for Kansas City after beating Toronto 1-0

last Saturday, six days after a stunning 2-1 friendly win over

Manchester United.

The Wizards, fifth in the East, are on a 2-0-1 run in league

play thanks in part to Teal Bunbury. The 20-year-old forward,

selected fourth overall in January’s SuperDraft, has scored twice

in three games – all starts – after coming up empty while being

used sparingly in his first 12.

“I was chomping at the bit from the preseason,” Bunbury said.

“My mentality is I always want to start. Whatever team I’m at, I

want to play with the best, be the best. That’s just the mentality

you’ve got to have as a player.

“I feel like now that I’ve got the starting spot, it’s my spot

to lose.”

Bunbury failed to score on two shots at Salt Lake in May, while

Real got goals from four players.