DOHA, Qatar (AP) – With playoff positioning of vital importance for both Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders, the clubs are working together so a few of the league's top players will be on the pitch for their important matchup.
Both teams expect to have some key contributors back from international duty Wednesday night when visiting Salt Lake looks for a season-high fourth straight league victory against the Sounders.
RSL (17-11-4) is second in the Western Conference, three points ahead of Seattle, with two matches remaining. The third-place Sounders (14-7-10) are two points ahead of Los Angeles with three to play.
While San Jose has secured the top spot in the West, RSL, the Sounders and the Galaxy hope to avoid being part of the extra playoff game between the fourth and fifth seeds.
Though it's uncertain if Salt Lake leading scorer Alvaro Saborio will suit up after playing for Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifying match against Guyana on Tuesday, the club hopes to have midfielder Kyle Beckerman and keeper Nick Rimando in action one night after they play in the United States' qualifier versus Guatemala in Kansas City.
Beckerman and Rimando are expected to fly to Seattle after Tuesday's national team match on the private jet of RSL co-owner Dell Loy Hansen. The club also agreed to have U.S. team member and Seattle leading scorer Eddie Johnson tag along.
"We're doing Seattle a big solid," Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis told the league's official website. "Hopefully, the good karma will come back to us.
"You have to believe they would do the same if they were in our shoes. Ultimately, we want the best game possible, which means the best players available."
Johnson, who scored both goals in the national team's 2-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda on Friday, has three in six MLS matches versus Salt Lake, but could see limited minutes in this contest.
"I don't see him being available to us in a starting situation, but maybe he's somebody who can come off the bench," coach Sigi Schmid told the Sounders' official website. "We have to look at the playoffs."
Johnson, who has 14 goals in his return to MLS after leaving in 2008 to play in Europe, scored in Seattle's 3-0 win over rival Portland on Oct. 7.
Fabian Espindola scored twice in three minutes to help RSL to a 2-1 win at Los Angeles on Oct. 6 and now has nine this season - one shy of his career high set in 2011. He has scored three times in the last three contests following a 12-match stretch without a goal.
Espindola scored in Salt Lake's 1-0 win at Seattle on May 12. The teams also played to a scoreless draw in Salt Lake City on July 4.