Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes are both striving to get into playoff position in the Western Conference, but one team has appeared more poised to accomplish that goal.
RSL will seek to close out the month with a season-high third consecutive MLS win Sunday while extending the Earthquakes' winless skid to five games.
Real Salt Lake (10-11-8) has outscored its two September opponents by a combined 6-1 after going 1-4-0 last month. Devon Sandoval scored a pair of goals while Javier Morales had a goal and an assist for the second straight league game in last Saturday's 3-0 win over Los Angeles.
RSL continued its roll Thursday with a 2-1 victory over Santa Tecla in CONCACAF Champions League play, putting the club on top of its group with one game left. Their newest designated player, Juan Manuel Martinez, provided the tiebreaking score, giving him two goals and an assist in his last three games across all competitions.
Salt Lake will next face a team that's 0-2-2 this month after concluding August with four straight shutout wins. The Earthquakes, though, are still two points ahead of RSL.
"In the table right now, we're pretty close. It's a six-point game. We need to go there and get three points," Real Salt Lake defender/midfielder Jordan Allen said. "That's what we need to do pretty much every game for the rest of the season. We have a playoff mentality right now. Everybody's focused and ready to go."
San Jose (11-12-7) gave up its most goals in two months last weekend with a 3-2 loss at New York City FC but made it interesting by scoring twice in the final 18 minutes of regulation. Chris Wondolowski converted a penalty kick for his sixth goal in seven games.
"There's no doubt that we can make the playoffs. First things first, we have to win our games, and then you watch what happens," coach Dominic Kinnear told his team's official website.
Wondolowski, whose 15 goals are his most in three seasons, found the net in the most recent matchup with Real Salt Lake on May 1 but the Earthquakes had to settle for a 1-all draw when they gave up an own goal in the 71st minute.
With his next goal, the San Jose star will move into sole possession of fifth place on the league's all-time list. He's tied with former RSL and current New York City coach Jason Kreis at 108.
Real Salt Lake is 2-0-1 in its last three in the series and won 1-0 in its latest trip to San Jose on April 5. Morales scored, giving him four in his last five matchups with the Earthquakes.
His nine career goals against San Jose are his most versus any opponent, and he also has six assists in 16 meetings.
Earthquakes defender Clarence Goodson will miss this game after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season in last week's loss.