"We know how good Kansas City is," said defender Chris Wingert. "They've given us some trouble in the past and we know it's going to be a great challenge for us."
"It's a team that I don't think we have a whole lot of love loss for," added head coach Jason Kreis. "Last year, it was a team that completely outplayed us at their stadium, so I'm looking to return the favor."
Some are calling this match an MLS Cup preview. RSL (11-5-4) has been the best team in the league this year, riding an 8-game MLS unbeaten streak and 11-game unbeaten streak including U.S. Open Cup matches. Real has outscored its opponents during this stretch 30-10.
"It's amazing to be a part of something like this," said midfielder Sebastian Velasquez. "You can honestly see in the locker room and off the field how confident and how much more of a family we've become."
"It's been a real team effort," said Wingert. "We're playing with a ton of different guys. We've had injuries and national team call-ups and everything like that. I think with a long season, you need a lot of depth. I think it's a testament to how deep we are."
"It's the biggest challenge we've had yet this season," said defender Nat Borchers. "We're going to have our hands full against them."
Sporting Kansas City (9-5-6) is coming in on a 5-game unbeaten streak of their own. K.C. plays an aggressive, attacking style, which should make for a very entertaining match.
"I just think it makes for a better spectacle," Kreis said of the two teams' styles. "It's what everybody likes to come and see. You hate to see somebody come in and play really negative soccer, and I'm hopeful that Kansas City won't do that."
RSL will once again be without Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Alvaro Saborio and Nick Rimando, who are all away from the team playing in the Gold Cup. With the season-ending knee injury to Josh Saunders, rookie goalkeeper Jeff Attinella will make his first MLS start.
"Training has gone pretty well," said Attinella, who came on in relief of Saunders in the 3-0 win over FC Dallas last Saturday. "I feel pretty good going into the weekend. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be awesome walking out of the tunnel. I'm sure at first I'll get goose bumps, but hopefully I'll settle in right away."
A sold out crowd is expected for the 8:00 p.m. start, which will be televised on CW30.