The Real Salt Lake and the Philadelphia Union soccer clubs sport nearly identical records, but seem to be going in different directions.
RSL (6-3-2), coming off a disappointing 2-1 loss in Columbus Wednesday night, has just one win in its last five games, while Philadelphia (6-3-3) hasn't lost over the same period, sporting a 2-0-1 mark since May 14.
The two teams meet today at 2 p.m. MST at PPL Park in Philadelphia.
Real will be trying to shake off the loss to Columbus just three nights earlier, in which it led 1-0 early, only to give up goals in the 76th and 82nd minutes. The Union managed a draw at Colorado last week, following a convincing 6-2 win at Toronto and a home win over Chicago.
RSL has struggled since losing in the CONCACAF Champions League final in April and things have been made worse by key injuries and recent national team call-ups for the Gold Cup matches.
"One of the challenges we haven't faced before to this extreme is to miss so many important players," said coach Jason Kreis. "It is difficult for us. It affects our ability to rotate players and keep a good amount of fresh players for these times where we have three matches in a week."
Real lost Javier Morales to a broken ankle last month, while Alvaro Saborio, Arturo Alvarez and Will Johnson are playing for their national teams for at least a couple of weeks.
As always, Kreis wouldn't say what his lineup would be for today's game, but it's possible there might be some changes to keep players fresh.
Kreis wasn't overly concerned about the two late goals allowed at Columbus because he felt the first came off a penalty that shouldn't have been called and "completely changed the game."
"Our guys still understand what it takes to close out games and still understand what it takes for us to succeed," he said.
The Union sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with 21 points, two better than New York and three ahead of Columbus. Real, meanwhile, has dropped to fourth in the Western Conference with 20 points, 10 behind Los Angeles.Comment on this story
"They're a very, very good team," Kreis said. "There's a reason why they have the most points in the Eastern Conference right now and they're a confident team at home. It's going to be a difficult test for us, especially coming after a Wednesday night match."
When asked if it was fair that his team played three nights earlier, while Philadephia had a week between games, Kreis said, "I have to be frank and say that it is a disadvantage for any team to come back from Wednesday and have to play on the weekend. But you hope that it balances out over the course of your season."
After today's game, RSL will return home to face DC United on June 18 at Rio Tinto Stadium.