Both Real Salt Lake and the Los Angeles Galaxy are in precarious spots ahead of Wednesday's match in Utah.
Each club suffered a home loss on Saturday that puts even more weight into their first battle of the season. A single point separates Los Angeles and Salt Lake in the Western Conference standings heading into the match.
The Galaxy (4-4-3, 15 points) are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot following a 2-0 setback to Colorado. An unmarked Cole Bassett tapped home a left-footer in the box in the 40th minute to put the Rapids in front and Jonathan Lewis added an insurance goal in the 78th minute.
Los Angeles played with only 10 men over the final 15 minutes after Julian Araujo was sent off with his second yellow card in the 75th minute.
The loss snapped a six-game unbeaten streak for the Galaxy.
"We know what we can do as a team. We know we can play better," LA captain Daniel Steres told the Los Angeles Times. "And we have to get back to that."
RSL (3-4-5, 14 points) is on the outside looking in following two straight home losses. The latest setback was a 2-1 defeat against Vancouver on Saturday. The Whitecaps absorbed tons of pressure from Salt Lake throughout the first half, but still came out on top after capitalizing on the few shots they got in the second half.
David Milinkovic and Lucas Cavallini each scored in the second half for Vancouver. Cavallini's strike inside the 6-yard box in the 84th minute secured the win after Justin Meram leveled the score with a header in the 81st minute.
Like the Galaxy, RSL played with only 10 men late in the second half of its match after Kyle Beckerman was sent off with a second yellow in the 63rd minute. It was the second player ejection for Salt Lake in the last two matches.
"Sometimes these games are tough because the opponent is playing for a result," RSL coach Freddy Juarez said. "If you give them an opportunity to sneak one, they will. I thought we controlled a lot of facets. I don't think it was aggressive enough, even after we went down a man."
Los Angeles has dominated the series in recent years, winning three of the last four matches between the clubs. Salt Lake is seeking its first victory over the Galaxy since a 6-2 result on Sept. 1, 2018.
--Field Level Media