Game Preview: Rapids v Real Salt Lake

by Brendan Wyatt 

It’s the final match of the Rocky Mountain Cup and you almost wouldn’t know the Rapids are down four goals on aggregate.  Every headline out of Rapids camp reads something like “We’ll bring the cup back” or “We know how important this is to the fans”.  Well, it is because the fans, nay the supporters are the reason there is an RMC.

Every time a club cleans house and there is a new coach or some new front office executives the supporters go blue in the face trying to explain the importance of the Rocky Mountain Cup.  This year again, the Rapids didn’t listen to the supporters (unless they come up with a marketing idea that the club can use) and now the Rapids sit in a hole they have not been able to dig themselves out of since 2015.

In 2015 the Rapids were just as good as they are now and went into Dallas and punched FC Dallas in the face 4-1.  Claudio Lopez was coach at that time because Pablo was out due to a red card the week before and the Rapids have not scored four goals in a game since.

Both Pablo and Coach Hudson had similar theories as to who should be starting and why, both of which have gotten the team similar results; lots of loses.  The idea of “who trains hardest, starts on gameday” comes from club ball, then carries into High School and some colleges, but not the pros.  It’s been said before that we are a great training team, but that training team gets rolled over on gameday because we don’t play our best players because they didn’t give it 110% in training.  The debate on hard working versus talent can go on forever, what every team needs is a combination of the two.

Though both coaching styles are very different the results and seasons have been very similar.  I believe it to be the caliber of players we put on the field. When we play the guys who have to play hard because every day is a fight to stay on the team, it shows on game day when the opponent has a team full of better talent.  It takes counter attacks and set pieces to win when you are under classed and out matched every game and that is why the Rapids have a center back as their leading scorer.

This match against RSL does mean a lot, I’ve put more into this article so far than I have, since I saw my tailgate concept get put to use by the club.  The problem I have is that this club, no matter who is on the roster, who the coach is, or who the General Manager is, has not been able to score four goals in one game.

I’d love to be proven wrong, especially when all season this club has proven me right.  Even more so when I’m being pessimistic on purpose only to get a laugh or rise out or people.

So now that we’ve tackled that 0-4 deficit that everyone else seems to have forgotten about; lets focus on the rest of what the Rapids must face tonight. RSL come to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park having won on the road against Houston last week.  RSL have only won twice on the road so far this season which does add a bit of value to the Rapids cause.

Salt Lake is riddled with injuries this season, which has played a part in their Jekyll and Hyde season.  The newest member to their injury list is Nick Rimando, who tweaked his hamstring last week; another bit of value to the Rapids cause.

The Rapids are also a bit banged up as far as injuries.  The difference between the two is that the Rapids have a few small nagging injuries, while RSL have a few serious ones that ended the season for some.  Sam Nicholson may still be out with some back issues, Axel Sjoberg is out because his knee is still not right.  Jack Price and Jack McBean have had some concerns with a foot and Kortne Ford is on concession protocol.

Overall RSL has the edge with a 18-13-11 record but are 5-10-5 when crossing over the continental divide. Sadly, the majority of those 5 we saw RSL lift the cup in our house, the only difference is this year, the last game is not the last one of the season, so playoffs are not on the line.

While this rivalry was created by the supporters, it never had to be forced. Rapids fans have seen RSL rip out their hearts on numerous occasions and really, really would like to give it back.  The Rapids could be down another two goals and the vast majority of the supporters would still hope for a win, just to stick it to RSL; they may have the RMC all but locked up but they wont get it without giving up three points to the Rapids.

Predicted starting XI: Tim Howard, Nana Boateng, Deklan Wynne, Tommy Smith, Edgar Castillo, Jack Price, Johan Blomberg, Kellyn Acosta, Enzo Martinez, Jack McBean, Nikki Jackson

Colorado

OUT:  OUT: D – Axel Sjoberg (knee injury)

QUESTIONABLE: M – Sam Nicholson (undisclosed injury), D – Kortne Ford (concussion protocol)

PROBABLE: F – Giles Barnes (ankle), F – Jack McBean (foot), M – Jack Price (back), D/M – Edgar Castillo (hip/groin)

Suspended: None

Suspended after next caution: F – Jack McBean, D – Kortne Ford

RSL

OUT: D – Tony Beltran (right knee surgery), M – Jordan Allen (knee surgery), GK – Alex Horwath (Achilles surgery), M – Luke Mulholland (back injury), D – David Horst (Achilles surgery), F – Ricky Lopez-Espin (knee surgery), GK – Connor Sparrow (knee injury);

QUESTIONABLE: D – Marcelo Silva (ankle injury), GK – Nick Rimando (hamstring injury), M – Pablo Ruiz (knee injury)

Suspended: none

Suspended after next caution: D – Marcelo Silva

How to Watch

Match Date/Time: Saturday Aug 25th, 7PM. MT

Venue: DSGP Commerce City Colorado

TV Information: AltitudeTV

Radio: Altitude950

Live Stream: ESPN+ (subscription required)

C38 Tailgate starts @4pm

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