Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake - Three Keys to the Game

SANDY, UT - JULY 21: Jonny Steele #22 of Real Salt Lake and Joseph Nane #5 of the Colorado Rapids fight for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer game July 21, 2012 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Real Salt Lake beat the Colorado rapids 2-0. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Let's face it, this game is meaningless right now thanks to the awful new scheduling we were subjected to this season. The Rocky Mountain Cup was won before the Rapids even got a shot at a home game and unlike in previous seasons, Real's appearance at DSGP doesn't seem to be much of a blip in the playoff picture -- the Rapids are pretty much out of the race and Salt Lake would need a historical collapse to miss out on them.

So what's left? Well, the fun of beating a rival in any situation is pretty much the only steam that's left pushing this train forward. Can the Rapids get their first three points in a month from an in-form Salt Lake team that has already crushed them by a score of 4-0 in the past two games?

If they want to attempt that, here's three things that should help make or break the effort...

Kyle Beckerman - In the first game this season against Salt Lake, the Rapids were pretty much destroyed in the midfield by Beckerman. Salt Lake's talisman midfielder did whatever he pleased against the makeshift 'defensive' midfield that the Rapids put out that had Drew Moor in it, and the Rapids lost 2-0 largely because they couldn't seem to get any movement forward. If they can't mark Kyle Beckerman or at least prevent him from stealing the ball after every touch, the Rapids aren't going to do much better.

Colorado did prove that without Beckerman there, they could put together something of a cohesive passing game in the midfield, but they still lost 2-0 even when that happened so take that as you will.

Snail's Pace - Part of the problem in their last game against Salt Lake was that Colorado seemed to be trying too hard to make something happen as soon as any player got the ball. Attacking plays were rushed, passes were made in a panic at times and shots weren't on target because they were taken right as they got to people's feet in the box. The Rapids need to slow the game down, to a snail's pace if needed, so that they can make their plays more cohesively with each other.

Being in front of the home fans should help calm their nerves a bit but if they take things slowly, this team has shown that they can put some good stuff together offensively. At some point, you'd assume they'll need to score a damn goal.

Put In Shane O'Neill Because Why The Hell Not - Salt Lake has seen the Rapids twice and has beat them both times. Why not throw a little cog into their knowledge of what's coming by putting in our little spitfire Shane O'Neill instead of Joseph Nane? (This is assuming that Oscar Pareja will continue his latest strategy of putting two 'holding' midfielders in the starting XI of course.) The runs forward will be improved and there's not too much tape on the kid that Jason Kreis will be able to check out. At this point, what do they have to lose really?

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