First place on the line as RSL hosts Seattle

SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - First place in the Western Conference will be on the line this Saturday afternoon as Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders hook up. This isn't a playoff game, but it will probably feel like one.

"I'd have to agree with you" said Nat Borchers. "It's going to be a big game between the two teams with the most points in the league right now. Plus, a matchup at Rio Tinto Stadium, it doesn't get any better than that."

Seattle is two points ahead of RSL in the Western Conference, 41-39, with two games in hand. Seattle ended RSL's 12-game unbeaten streak to open the year back in May, winning handily 4-0 in Seattle. After a bit of a mid-season slump, RSL appears to have regained it's earlier form going unbeaten in its last five matches, including a 3-0 shutout over D.C. United this past Saturday.

"We put ourselves in a really good position to get these type of games," said midfielder Kyle Beckerman. "If you're doing good, you get a chance to play in a big game with the team that's right ahead of you. You get a chance to jump over them, so we're really excited for this game."

"I think it's great league to have the top two teams going at each other," said goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who broke the MLS all-time shutout record with his 113th clean sheet. "With the stars that Seattle has and that we have, it's great for the fans."

One of those stars, Clint Dempsey, and fellow U.S. Men's National Team teammate Kyle Beckerman talked about this showdown when they were in Brazil for the World Cup.

"Ya, we talk a little bit," Beckerman said with a smile. "I don't want to feed him anything to get him mad because if we can keep him quiet, that would be good for us."

The Sounders have led the Western Conference for most of the season, but with RSL's recent hot streak, first place is once again attainable.

"The fact that Seattle had been running away with it and now they're somewhat in sight," said defender Tony Beltran. "If we're going to have any shot at the Supporters Shield, this is going to be it."

While midfielder John Stertzer was lost for the season with a broken leg suffered in Tuesday night's international friendly against Club Tijuana, Real Salt Lake's all-time leading scorer Alvaro Saborio was jogging for the first time at practice since having knee surgery in June. Saborio appears to be ahead of schedule, an encouraging sign for the team.

"It's awesome, fantastic," said head coach Jeff Cassar. "He's always pushing the envelope to try to get back as soon as he can to contribute for the team. So, it's a big step in the right direction."

Real Salt Lake hosts the Sounders Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.

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