KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – Stingy Real Salt Lake has experienced some difficulty in slowing down opponents of late.
The Chicago Fire, meanwhile, have thrived on the defensive end under interim coach Frank Klopas.
Real Salt Lake goes on the road looking to break out of a disappointing stretch while the Fire try to continue their resurgence Wednesday night.
Salt Lake (6-3-4) is allowing a league-low 0.62 goals per game, but half of the eight goals it has surrendered have come during a current three-game winless streak (0-1-2).
"I think that we just need to continue to try and improve in every aspect of our game," coach Jason Kreis said Saturday after his team blew a lead in the 85th minute of a 1-1 draw with D.C. "...I'm not asking for huge improvements, I'm asking for little improvements. The possibilities are there."
Real will be without midfielder Jean Alexandre, who was suspended by the league and fined $500 on Tuesday for a reckless tackle in the 49th minute of Saturday's draw.
The Fire (2-4-9) snapped a franchise-worst 11-game winless drought with a 1-0 victory at Columbus on June 12 - that followed three consecutive ties - and now have a five-game unbeaten streak going after drawing 1-1 at New England on Saturday.
"We came here to push and get the win," Klopas told the Fire's official website. "...in the end, we get a point and now have two games at home."
Chicago has gone 1-0-3 with three clean sheets since Klopas replaced Carlos de los Cobos on the sidelines May 30. While he's implemented new defensive schemes that seem to have immediately paid off, goalkeeper Sean Johnson also has keyed the turnaround.
Johnson, who gave up nine goals over his first four matches, allowed his first tally in 334 minutes of play Saturday. He also made five saves.
"I come out every night with the mindset that I'm going to do the best I can to help our team get a result," Johnson said. "Luckily I was able to make a couple saves in the first half to keep us in it."
Johnson will look to slow down Real Salt Lake's Fabian Espindola, who moved into second place in team history with 20 goals after scoring his third in four games Saturday.
Fellow forward Alvaro Saborio is expected to be available after returning from his Gold Cup stint with Costa Rica. Saborio had a team-best 12 goals and four assists in 2010 but has failed to record a point in six games this season.
"We're going to continue to believe in him, work on the technical aspects of his finishing, and at the end of it he's going to have to come through this rough patch," Kreis said. "Forwards have rough patches and this one has been a little longer than probably typical for him and for most guys but he'll come through."
Chicago, which hosts New York on Sunday following this match, lost two 1-0 affairs to Real Salt Lake last season but is 5-3-4 in the all-time series.