The Rocky Mountain Cup finale may prove to be the biggest match of the season for the Rapids, as it could not only get them the cup back for the first time since 2006, but could also launch them into the top spot of the MLS Standings, if only for a short time.
In anticipation of the big game, I exchanged a few questions with Matt Montgomery of RSL Soapbox. You can read my answers to his questions about our Rapids over at his site, while his answers to my RSL-centric questions are below. Read on!
BW: So we hear that Yordany Alvarez has been suspended for a few games, which will include the RMC match. What other big names are injured or suspended going into this one?
RSLS: Yeah... about that. We'll be missing Yordany Alvarez, Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran through suspension. That's just, well, remarkable. Wingert and Alvarez were clearly going into matches a little too strongly, and Tony Beltran got a poor red card before leaving for the Gold Cup. As far as I can tell, we won't be missing any new players through injury - just Josh Saunders, Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe are those likely to play. Olmes Garcia sounds to be a real doubt, though, and that's a blow - he's immensely talented and has been fantastic for us in this, his first season. Rimando and Beckerman returning though - that's encouraging.
BW: There's been a bit of talk around Rapids-land about how RSL might have some tired legs from the All-Star game and International duty. Will those guys be starting? Bench presences? May some of them miss the Rapids match entirely?
RSLS: I'd like to describe that as a bit of wishful thinking. Beckerman is the only candidate for this, really, but his role affords him an opportunity to play in a more reserved approach. It's not ideal, but with Alvarez missing ... well, let's just say the timing could have been better. Beckerman will likely play if just out of necessity, but I wouldn't count on him looking poor. He's in fantastic form. Nick Rimando shouldn't have any real issue, despite playing through most of the Gold Cup and 45 minutes in the All-Star Game. Tony Beltran will be suspended and is a non-issue.
BW: Salt Lake is a much different team this year than last, and there's plenty of new faces on there that have contributed to the current first-place campaign. Who's a lesser known guy we should watch out for on Saturday?
RSLS: Of those who are less than veritable veterans, you'll want to watch out for someone like Joao Plata or Luis Gil. These two are not exactly unknowns, it must be said. Plata's a quick, attacking forward that could probably fit underneath one of your bigger defenders. Gil is a shaky-on-the-road midfielder that's constantly improving, but still probably not yet the "real deal," as it were. So really, despite the injuries and absences, there's nobody you won't know. Of course, you might want to look out for the likes of Lovel Palmer and Abdoulie Mansally - they'll present some vulnerabilities at which you could aim.
BW: Projected Lineup?
RSLS: Rimando; Palmer, Borchers, Salcedo, Mansally; Beckerman, Stephenson, Gil, Morales; Plata, Saborio.
Or something like that.
Thanks again to Matt, head over to RSL Soapbox if you need any reading up on the opposition for Saturday's Rocky Mountain Cup finale.