The Rapids head tonight to the RioT with their sights set on returning the trophy to Colorado. RSL won the first leg back on April 15 in Colorado, 2-1. The Rapids need a tie or a win tonight, otherwise Real Salt Lake will claim it for the second straight year and ninth time in the 13 year existence of the rivalry.
Colorado played a janky and oddly constructed 4-3-3 midweek against Portland that was long on squad players and roster question marks. Steve Cooke takes the reins in this match for the third time ever as an MLS coach, and he faces Mike “Pass em out Trey” Petke, former head coach at NYRB, who came to Salt Lake just a few months ago to replace the fired Jeff Cassar. Petke has tongue lashed the previously moribund squad and has played the kids while occasionally benching DP striker Yura Movsisyan. All signs point to big Yura being dissatisfied when he’s been asked to do things like ‘run’, ‘defend’, and ‘play hard’. He’s squarely in Petke’s doghouse, but he’s also the only big physical presence RSL has on a front line that features speed and agility over power and physicality.
It should be an interesting matchup - assuming the Rapids backline steadies itself. Colorado is tied for the fewest clean sheets in MLS, along with LA Galaxy and Portland, with only 4 on the season, and it might take putting up a goose-egg to make it out of RSL with any points, as RSL have a reasonably potent 36 goals scored this year. The Fightin’ Mormons* sport a 9-4-4 (WTL) home record coming into this match, and are still vaguely in the conversation to make the playoffs as they are 3 points behind 6th place Vancouver.
Starting XI Colorado
Howard; Hairston, Miller, Sjöberg, Williams; Boateng, Gil, Saeid; Gashi, Doyle, Badji.
Bench for #RSLvCOL: da Fonte, Berner, Gordon, Serna, Azira, Watts, Gatt.#Rapids96 pic.twitter.com/9toSRpDbuZ— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) August 27, 2017
Starting XI Salt Lake
Rimando; Beltran?, Maund?, Sunny? Plata?, Lennon?, Rusnak? That guy that donged his head on the post last year. Some other guys. WTF is this lineup announcement.
Tonight's Rocky Mountain Cup XI. #RivalryWeek pic.twitter.com/u3TILFVAPZ— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) August 27, 2017
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* Not their official title.