Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake suffer through droughts

SANDY, Utah — Finding some consistency on offense has turned into a quest for Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake after some uneven offensive performances in recent matches.

The rivals clash Wednesday and are looking for new ways to invigorate their respective offenses. Kansas City has suffered three shutouts in its last five matches. Salt Lake has managed just two goals in three consecutive matches.

Sporting KC (9-3-5) is tied with FC Dallas atop the Western Conference and also is tied for second among Western Conference teams in goals scored (31).

Still, Kansas City has gone feast or famine when it comes to generating offense. The club produced a combined seven goals in wins over Minnesota and Houston but failed to score in draws with Portland and Columbus and a loss to Montreal.

The 2-0 setback against the Impact on Saturday carried an extra sting. It snapped a nine-game unbeaten streak across all competitions that included seven straight MLS regular-season matches without a loss.

Kansas City became the fourth opponent shut out by Montreal in the Impact’s last five matches. Sporting KC could not prevail even though it finished with a 9-8 advantage on total shots. The club put just three chances on frame.

“I would say the one thing for them that they did really well was they were organized defensively, and we didn’t move the ball quick enough to disorganize their defense,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes told reporters after the match. “To me, that was probably the biggest thing, especially in the second half.”

Salt Lake is no stranger to struggles with finishing chances. RSL (7-8-2) is mired in a three-game winless streak in large part because it can’t figure out how to complete potential scoring plays in the attacking third.

In the last two matches, Salt Lake has generated 37 total shots and put 12 shots on frame. All RSL has to show for it is two goals.

“That’s been the story for us a lot of games this year,” Salt Lake coach Mike Petke told reporters after a 2-1 loss to Columbus on Saturday. “We’ve created a lot of chances, but we’ve had our issues converting enough of them.”

It has put added pressure on a porous defense decimated by injuries. Defenders Shawn Barry (knee), Tony Beltran (knee), David Horst (Achilles) and Demar Phillips (ankle) were all sidelined against Columbus. With a thin back line, RSL sports a minus-11 goal differential — one of the worst among all MLS teams midway through the season.