Real Salt Lake will see a familiar face in former manager Freddy Juarez on the opposing sideline when they host the Seattle Sounders on Saturday evening in Sandy, Utah.
Juarez left RSL (9-9-6, 33 points) earlier this season to take an assistant position on Seattle manager Brian Schmetzer's staff. That move came after Schmetzer's former top assistant Gonzalo Pineda became the new Atlanta United manager.
Reports suggested Juarez took the unusual step of exiting his post because he did not believe his contract would be extended beyond the season.
That could create an interesting dynamic not lost on Schmetzer, even as the Sounders (13-4-6, 45 points) face the road trip following a win in the Leagues Cup semifinals on Tuesday and with the final looming Wednesday in Las Vegas against Leon of Liga MX.
"We need to win (Saturday's) game for Freddy Juarez. If we don't win the game, then I'm going to fire Freddy because he didn't give the good information about his former team," Schmetzer deadpanned after Tuesday's win over Santos Laguna.
That said, Seattle enters the weekend second in the Western Conference, 12 points above the playoff line and a point behind West leader Sporting Kansas City with two matches in hand.
Real Salt Lake, who enter the weekend in sixth in the West, are in dire need of another positive result after a wild 4-3 win in San Jose on Wednesday night.
Rubio Rubin scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season in that game. Albert Rusnak added his seventh goal and two assists, including the pass to Rubin for his 81st-minute game-winner.
Salt Lake trailed 1-0 in the first half and 3-2 in the second before prevailing despite a brilliant hat trick from the Quakes' Javier Eduardo Lopez. It was RSL's second win in four games under interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni.
"For me the most important thing has been the leadership of both Albert and Dami (Damir Kreilach)," said Mastroeni, who has previously managed in MLS at Colorado.
"When you have those guys on the field that believe that we're going to win, everyone else follows suit and everyone has the same belief."
--Field Level Media