Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake
2017 MLS Regular Season
Dick's Sporting Goods Park • Commerce City, Colorado
Saturday, April 15 • 9 p.m. ET
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It's rivalry time in the Rockies, as Real Salt Lake and new head coach Mike Petke come calling on the Colorado Rapids and Pablo Mastroeni. The two managers locked horns on the field during their own playing days and now find themselves battling for the Rocky Mountain Cup, the trophy that goes to the winner of this series every year.
Just a week ago, the Rapids would have been the odds-on favorites to knock off their neighbors to the west. RSL have spent much of 2017 with a laundry list of injuries, especially on the backline, and a string of poor results to start the year cost Jeff Cassar his job. A loss to Minnesota was an ominous sign, but then Petke debuted with a 3-0 win vs. Vancouver in a blizzard. The attack was buzzing, and the backline kept the 'Caps at bay. Could the Claret & Cobalt be back on track under new management?
Given the stakes, the Rapids hope the answer to that question is in the negative. Colorado are in a transition phase of their own after sending captain Sam Cronin and starting left back Marc Burch to expansion Minnesota United. They've conceded more than one goal in back-to-back games -- a 2-2 draw vs. Minnesota and a 3-1 loss to Sporting KC -- and that's definitely out of character for a team that fielded MLS's best defense in 2016. Can they hold Joao Plata, Yura Movsisyan and Albert Rusnak and find a way to get their own attack rolling against a shorthanded backline?
The Rapids are on the hunt for a TAM attacker to fill the salary cap space opened by their recent moves. That player isn't in Commerce City yet, however, and the current cast must show they can carry the load until reinforcements arrive. With the defense showing more cracks this season, goals will be at a premium and Mastroeni needs production from the likes of Shkelzen Gashi and Kevin Doyle. He also needs Bismark Adjei-Boateng to settle and show the rest of the league what the Colorado staff expect from the young midfielder.
- Suspended: Tim Howard (Disciplinary Committee decision)
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT: GK - John Berner (wrist injury), D - Axel Sjoberg (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: M - Dillon Serna (calf injury)
Projected starting XI (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath (GK) — Mekeil Williams, Bobby Burling, Jared Watts, Eric Miller — Micheal Azira, Bismark Adjei-Boateng - Shkelzen Gashi, Kevin Doyle, Marlon Hairston – Dominique Badji
Notes: The Rapids conceded twice in their most recent home game – a 2-2 draw with Minnesota on March 18. They have conceded multiple goals in back-to-back home games just twice in their last 38 matches at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Real Salt Lake
After some dark days to start the season, there is reason for hope in Sandy. The backline just has to hold on until the likes of Justen Glad, Tony Beltran and Aaron Maund return from injury, an experiment that'll yield different results every match. The attack is starting to come around thanks to Joao Plata and Albert Rusnak, who seem to have have found their form and sparked a mini goal run from Yura Movsisyan. If Brooks Lennon finds the final product -- he gets closer every week -- this team could go from firing its coach to making the playoffs.
- Suspended: NONE
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT: Chad Barrett (knee injury), David Horst (knee injury); QUESTIONABLE: Jordan Allen (right quad strain), Justen Glad (knee injury), Tony Beltran (back injury), Aaron Maund (left hamstring strain), M - Sunny (hamstring injury), F - Joao Plata (quad injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Nick Rimando (GK) – Danilo Acosta, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert, Demar Phillips – Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland – Brooks Lennon, Albert Rusnak, Joao Plata – Yura Movsisyan
Notes: Real Salt Lake have won six of their last 10 meetings with Colorado (2L-2D), and have earned a result in three of their last five games in Colorado (2W-1D). … Real Salt Lake are winless in their last eight away games (7L-1D), averaging 0.6 goals per game in that time.
Real Salt Lake own the all-time edge in the Rocky Mountain Cup, but every year presents a new opportunity for either side to lift some rivalry hardware.
- Overall: Colorado Rapids 12 win, 35 goals; Real Salt Lake 15 win, 43 goals; 10 draws
- At Colorado: Colorado Rapids 9 win, 23 goals; Real Salt Lake 4 win, 16 goals; 5 draws
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Kermit Quisenberry, Logan Brown
Fourth Official: Daniel Radford