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How To Watch: Colorado Rapids vs Real Salt Lake

The first derby match of the year is also the championship match of the Desert Diamond Cup. What should we look for from the Rapids?

Isaiah Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Rapids vs Real Salt Lake.

For soccer fans in the Rocky Mountain Region it does not get better than that.  Whether it is for the Rocky Mountain Cup, an MLS Playoff berth or a pre-season tournament, this is a massive match.  Make no mistake, despite that the season has not started, this one matters.  And since RSL pretty much waxed the floor with the Rapids in 2014, this match should take on slightly more importance then the average preseason get-together.  The Rapids come into this match with a 1-0-2 (5 points) record from the Desert Diamond Cup whereas RSL is perfect at 3-0-0 (9 points)

The game is being streamed live on Saturday night at 7 PM MT at coloradorapids.com or mlssoccer.com.

What should we be looking out for from the Rapids on Saturday night:

A Set Starting XI:  Obviously things happen over the course of the season, but I suspect that the lineup that we see on Saturday will be as close to the actual XI that will play against Philadelphia Union.  This is not to suggest that what happens in Tucson will carry over into West Chester on the 7th, but it will be close.  My best guess starting XI, in the favored 4-2-3-1 formation:

GK: Clint Irwin

DEF: Marc Burch, Bobby Burling, Axel Sjoberg, Michael Harrington

D-MID:  Marcelo Sarvas, Lucas Pittinari

MID:  Juan Ramirez, Dillon Powers, Vicente Sánchez

F:  Gabriel Torres

A Final Time: There are a number of trialists and draftees trying to make the squad.  This may be a final time for them to impress the coaching staff.  Players such as Wes Knight, James Riley, Benji Joya, Dominique Badji, and Oscar Montoya will be looking to make that final cut.  This is not to say that if they are not on the roster come Monday (when final rosters are due) that they will never suit up in Burgundy.  And I do think that some of the aforementioned lads have a shot to make this roster.  The club is in search of depth and a few of them can provide that.

When Does The Season Start? I know that no one is talking out loud about this, but this has the chance of being the final match for the Rapids for a long time if the MLS Players Union and the Owners do not get a deal done for a new collective bargaining agreement.  Much has been writing about who is right or wrong, but I hope that cooler heads prevail and they get this done in time for the Friday night game when Chicago Fire travel to take on LA Galaxy.