Harrison, NJ (Sports Network) - Two of Major League Soccer's elite teams - Real Salt Lake and Red Bull New York - square off for an inter-conference battle at Red Bull Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Both teams have clinched spots in the upcoming MLS Cup playoffs, and are jockeying for position with three games remaining in their respective regular seasons.
RSL (14-4-9) is coming off a 2-1 win at New England last Saturday that temporarily had it in first in the league's overall table before the Los Angeles Galaxy pulled ahead by two points with a win vs. Chivas USA a day later.
Now RSL, which has just one loss in its last 22 league fixtures, will have to find a way to shut down a high-powered New York lineup, even though it will be without Rafa Marquez and Dane Richards because of international duty.
"We've taken a lot of pride and done a lot of talking about how good we are defensively," RSL coach Jason Kreis told mlssoccer.com. "We're going to be tested severely on Saturday."
RSL will still have to deal with the likes of strikers Juan Pablo Angel and Thierry Henry.
"Thierry Henry just with his intelligence in the offensive third is the largest reason why they are creating so many chances," Kreis said. "They may not all be coming to him, but I think he's doing an excellent job of providing the players around him with opportunities.
"Angel is Angel, and I think he's just fantastic, and has been every year he's been [in MLS]. It's remarkable how many goals he's scored, especially when you consider the fact that a lot of the goals that were scored have been on a bad team."
New York (14-8-5) currently holds the top spot in the Eastern table, one up on Columbus, so finding a way to get a positive result vs. an RSL team that has been virtually unbeatable over the last five months will be important if it wants to hang onto its slim advantage on the Crew.
On top of Marquez and Richards, New York's starting goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul and reserve defender Andrew Boyens will be unavailable because of international duty. Midfielders Luke Sassano, Brian Nielsen and Irving Garcia are also out with injuries, while defender Carey Talley is questionable with a hamstring strain.
RSL will be without defender Chris Schuler because of a broken foot, while defender Chris Wingert, midfielders Jean Alexandre, Nelson Gonzalez and Javier Morales, and forward Alvaro Saborio are expected to be available with knocks.