While a vibrant offense helped push the San Jose Earthquakes into the knockout round of the MLS is Back Tournament, the scoring chances might not be so easy to come by against stingy Real Salt Lake.
The two Western Conference rivals meet in the round of 16 on Monday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.
San Jose (2-1-2, 8 points) opened this World Cup-style event playing Seattle to a scoreless draw July 10. However, the Earthquakes followed with a wild, 4-3 comeback win over Vancouver and a 2-0 victory against Chicago to win Group B.
Chris Wondolowski, the league's all-time leader with 161 goals, has scored once in each of the last two games. Midfielder Cristian Espinoza has a goal with an assist over the same span.
The 'Quakes remain a quality offensive club while also tightening things up defensively after conceding seven goals in their first two games prior to the league's shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think it's a team that grows day by day," coach Matias Almeyda told the Earthquakes' official website. "A team that is growing individually and collectively, and a team that enjoys playing football, which is what I'm mostly interested in."
Salt Lake (1-1-3, 6 points) has scored just three goals on the season -- two in the tournament -- but has yielded only three overall, as well. Two of those concessions came during a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City in its final group match Wednesday.
Still, RSL managed to advance to the knockout stage, and knows it has the potential to move on if the squad can prove that defensive effort versus Kansas City was a one-time setback. However, in a do-or-die format, it must also find a way to attack more aggressively.
"You're in a tournament situation, you know that it's win or go home," RSL coach Freddy Juarez told the official MLS website. "There is a little more meaning behind it."
Damir Kreilach has scored two of Salt Lake's three goals this season, and totaled the same amount in four career games versus San Jose. Wondolowski, meanwhile, has failed to score in his last seven against RSL.
--Field Level Media