In case you somehow missed it, the Rapids play their first match of the Rocky Mountain Cup this weekend, and for the first time in a while they'll be in a position of defending the cup rather than trying to snatch it back. They'll be facing a Real Salt Lake team in fine form though, as Jeff Cassar's side has yet to lose a game this season despite a couple of very close shaves. We covered Cassar's coaching, the players that have left for the World Cup and a contractually obligated question I had to ask because of my Rowdies-supporting friends in our three questions with Randal from RSL Soapbox.
You can see Randal's answers to my questions about our cross-mountain rivals below, and check out my answers to their questions about the Rapids over on their site. Read on for some info about Cassar's RSL side:
BW: Similar to the Rapids, RSL changed coaches this off-season and brought in a guy expected to keep the general philosophy of his predecessor. Has Cassar made any changes, even minor, since taking the helm?
RSLS: The longer the season goes on, the fewer changes I see in the organization with regards to Cassar. The biggest change is his attitude compared to Kreis'. Cassar is a positive guy and I have yet to see him not upbeat in his interviews. He seems to be a players' coach. By not changing the style of play, Cassar has solidified the RSL system and shown that this philosophy of a team-first, "play the right way" mentality is here to stay. Cassar has of course put his own touches on the tactics and has a large say in who to keep with the club and who to bring in, but RSL's identity is healthy and looks to be here for the long term thanks to Cassar wanting to stay the course. In fact, when he was hired part of his argument was "Why would you hire anybody else?" He had been with Kreis for years and understood the club as well as anyone.
BW: Now that World Cup rosters are out, specifically for the USMNT, who is expected to take over for RSL's missing starters?
RSLS: The players that are on the World Cup rosters, i.e. Beckerman, Rimando, and Saborio have said multiple times that it is the team that makes RSL and that they will be able to continue the pace while the three of them are away. So in that sense, the whole team will have to step up a bit. If we are to talk specific players, Cole Grossman will likely cover Beckerman's spot, Jeff Attinella will cover Rimando's spot, and Devon Sandoval is likely to cover for Saborio, although I thin the forwards will rotate minutes rather than a straight swap. All of them have proven themselves to be more than capable when they have started games over the past year and half or two.
RSLS: Luke Mulholland has fit seamlessly into Real Salt Lake. I think it is fair to say that he has exceeded expectations thus far. He has proven to be very effective in the attack and has three goals thus far (and truly he should have four since his goal against the Galaxy int he opening game was wrongly called off) to go along with two assists. He is really challenging Luis Gil for the starting spot on the side of the diamond. He is quickly working his way up on RSL fans' favorite player list.
Thanks again to RSL Soapbox for the chat. Check out their site for all the info you'll need on the RMC rivals going into tomorrow's match.