Sandy • Minutes after wrapping up his first training session in weeks Tuesday afternoon, Sebastian Velasquez had his own take on the Real Salt Lake rivalry still brewing with Sporting Kansas City. The RSL midfielder, who’s been hampered by a hamstring injury thus far, said the chatter between the two MLS Cup finalists from 2013 is healthy.
"But at the end of the day," Velasquez said, "it’s the score that does all the talking."
Real Salt Lake at Sporting K.C.Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
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It did in 2013, when Sporting Kansas City beat RSL in a penalty kick shootout that went 20 kicks deep. On a frigid early December night in the Midwest, RSL’s dreams of hoisting the league’s crown were vanquished. But 2014 isn’t 2013, and the two sides, however filled with venom for one another, are dealing with a new year.
Saturday’s early season matchup at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., is another chance for RSL to keep its unblemished start to 2014 (2-0-2) rolling. Sporting Kansas City enters the match with a 2-1-1 record.
"The most important thing is playing well and trying to get a result there," said first-year RSL coach Jeff Cassar. "We’re not going to win the MLS Cup on Saturday, but we can put ourselves in a good position to get back there this year and that’s what it’s all about."
Defender Nat Borchers said his club has developed rivalries with so many teams simply due to the fact that RSL has been a consistent postseason threat for six consecutive seasons.
"I think it’s great when you have the rivalry that we have building up with teams, especially a team like Kansas City," he said. "We’re just ready to batter each other and go after each other this Saturday."
Wingert joins list of injured starters
Add Chris Wingert as another RSL regular to go down with an injury. The RSL fullback left the match against Toronto FC in the 58th minute with a groin issue and was replaced by Rich Balchan. Cassar said Tuesday he doesn’t know how long Wingert will be out, but added "it’s not looking good for this weekend."
That leaves Balchan, who made his RSL debut against TFC despite being with the club during 2013, and defender Abdoulie Mansally as two candidates to replace Wingert in the back line Saturday at Kansas City. Mansally has appeared in 19 regular-season matches for RSL since 2012, starting in 13.
RSL players set to take on Mexico
When the U.S. men’s national team takes the field at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday night, as many as four Real Salt Lake starters could be in the lineup against Mexico. The international friendly — the last tune-up match before coach Jurgen Klinsmann calls in his camp for this summer’s World Cup — kickoff at 8 p.m. Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Luis Gil and Tony Beltran are four of the 20 MLS-based players called up, hoping to make a further impression on the staff.
"I do want them to do well and represent their country well and obviously get a win," Cassar said. "It’s great to have momentum heading into the World Cup, but I just want them to enjoy themselves."
The quartet is expected to return for Thursday’s training session ahead of another high-profile regular-season matchup, Cassar said.
"You lose four starters, four key guys like that, obviously training’s different and you have to make adjustments," Borchers said.
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