REAL SALT LAKE (7-9-6) vs. CHIVAS USA (10-7-3), 9 p.m. ET, Direct Kick
RSL trails Chivas USA by six points in the Western Conference standings and is three points shy of a three-team logjam at 30 points that delineates the bottom of the playoff tier. The return from suspension of defender Jamison Olave should help stabilize a back line that looked rickety in a 3-1 loss to New England last weekend. Yura Movsisyan (rotator cuff impingement) and Javier Morales (groin strain) are questionable, so Andy Williams and Clint Mathis may have to marshal the RSL attack.
A single goal separated the teams when Chivas USA won the first meeting at Home Depot Center in early May, though RSL came out on top (3-2 aggregate) when the teams met in last year's playoffs. Chivas rides into Rio Tinto off back-to-back 2-0 wins over New York and Toronto FC, but is only 3-5-2 on the road this season and may be looking ahead to Saturday's derby match with the Galaxy. Coach Preki must decide if newcomers Jesus Padilla and Maicon Santos should reprise their starting roles of last weekend.
Prediction: RSL 1, Chivas USA 1.
RIDGE MAHONEY'S 2009 PREDICTION RECORD
Last week: 3-6. Season: 82-82.