Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids will meet on Saturday July 21st at 8:00 PM at the Rio Tinto Stadium in the second installment this season of the Rocky Mountain Cup. Both teams have struggled of late and will be looking to get back on track with a win in a big way on Saturday night. Colorado is desperate for their first win since the end of May and hopes to reclaim the Rocky Mountain Cup for the first time since 2007. After a month and a half of questionable form, RSL must reestablish their home dominance in this match and reassert their status as one of the elite clubs in the MLS, especially against the lowly Rapids. Real Salt Lake will also look to keep their dynastic hold of the RMC, which they have possessed for the last 5 years straight.
This match promises to be an intense adrenaline filled affair as both sides battle for dominance in this rivalry. The Rocky Mountain Cup is one of the most passionate rivalries in the MLS. While in its inception being driven principally by the fans due to the two sides proximity, over the years it has grown into an energy charged event that fans and club take to heart. As RSL fans and club this is one of our two top rivalries with most of us considering the LA Galaxy another fierce competitor due to our general distain for the club and their puffed up prima donna footballers.
While Colorado head coach Oscar Pareja and RSL boss Jason Kreis, off the pitch are former team mates and friends, make no mistake, when it comes to this match there will be all out war in between the lines and in the stands! The RioT is already sold out and promises to be an especially hostile atmosphere for the visiting Rapids and their traveling supporters. Fireworks are schedule to follow the match but we are sure to see plenty on the pitch and in the stadium during the course of the evening as well.
The Claret and Cobalt will be without their starting Captain, Kyle Beckerman, who is suspended for a controversial red card received in RSL’s loss to San Jose a week ago. Colorado will also be without Jeff Larentowicz, one of their key starting midfielders, due to suspension. All indications at this point are that DF Nat Borchers, MF Ned Grabavoy and DF Tony Beltran will be healthy in time for Saturday’s kick off, while DF Chris Schuler will remain sidelined with a left foot injury.
Our own Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert and Captain Kyle Beckerman have played for both sides in the Rocky Mountain Cup since it’s inception. Kyle Beckerman having been on the winning side every year of the affair since 2005.
With a home win in this match Goalkeeper Nick Rimando will take over second place in all time MLS wins with 132.
Despite their recent form, RSL enters the match the heavy favorite and carries a seven-game unbeaten streak against Colorado, having last dropped a match to them in May 2009.
Having loaned forward Paulo Jr. to the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers this week, it is possible that we will see newcomer, Justin Braun, in his first match action as a substitute on Saturday. While Braun is classified as more of a target forward I do not think it is likely that he will substitute RSL’s other target forward, Alvaro Saborio. Instead I think we may be likely to see the two of them pester the Colorado back line as a pair, which should make for an interesting and entertaining dynamic and one that may cause the Colorado defense some serious headaches.
I project we will see head coach, Jason Kreis, field a starting 11 of GK Nick Rimando, DF Tony Beltran, DF Jamison Olave, DF Nat Borchers, DF Chris Wingert, MF Yordany Alvarez, MF Ned Grabavoy, MF Will Johnson, MF Javier Morales, FW Alvaro Saborio and FW Fabian Espindola.
While this will be a hotly contested match with two sides desperate to find their form, I see RSL, after a good week of regrouping, dominating the possession, tempo and run of play of the match and generally playing their attractive style of footy. I think we will see Fabian Espindola get back on the scoreboard after a month plus scoring hiatus and I think we will see a goal (possibly two) from Saborio. Despite Colorado having a couple of lethal forwards in Omar Cummings and Conor Casey I don’t believe we will see Colorado notch a goal. So my prediction for the match is a 2 nil win for RSL!
Saturday promises to be another unforgettable RMC installment! Don’t miss it! Remember, Be Early, Be Loud, Be Proud, Believe!