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Game Preview: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids

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Can this new Rapids squad get the club’s first win in Rio Tinto?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The Rocky Mountain Cup is back—well not the cup, but the match-up. It’s game one of three versus Real Salt Lake, and RSL is starting with home-field advantage. Rio Tinto Stadium is not a place where the Rapids have done well and the fact that the Burgundy Boys have yet to win on that pitch is a constant reminder of that.

Overall, the Rapids are 13-17-10 against the rivals to the west, and this year the Rapids go to Sandy twice. If we’ve learned anything from Coach Hudson, it’s that if you give him three games, he will give you at least 4 points. That could be enough to bring the Rocky Mountain Cup back home, but it’s too early to tell. RSL has been holding on to the RMC for the past two seasons—two seasons too long and the Rapids are determined to bring it back.

Colorado supporters love to see RSL lower than us in the standings, but the Rapids are currently just one point above Salt Lake. This adds a bigger emphasis on a win for the Rapids; a four-point lead against your rivals is always a good thing.

Jack Price is a focal point for this game. He wasn’t training fully earlier in the week which may imply a minor injury, but it may not be something that keeps him out of the lineup. Assuming all is good and Price plays, the discussion on everyone’s mind is “Will Price get the next yellow card so he sits now instead of later?” Either way, I’m pretty confident the team is prepared for his absence when that time comes.

It’s the absence of Marlon Hairston that has the right side of the defense in question a bit. Kip Colvey was Coach Hudson’s first choice, but he subbed in Dillon Serna in the 39th minute last week. It didn’t look like Colvey had that spot in training earlier this week. Will Dillon Serna get his first start of the season or will we see someone else step in that spot for a short time?

Kortne Ford is on the mend and could be just a few games away from coming back as he was pushing his fitness levels earlier in the week. Danny Wilson and Joe Mason were with trainers, which (in most cases) implies that they are out for at least this game. Does Yannick Boli get the start or do you give it to Gashi?

Enzo Martinez was subbed out of the game last week due to a little knock, but he and Price were not with the other injured players so something tells me that both of them will be included in the lineup today.

The club, and most of all the players, know how important this game is for the fans and the hundred or so C38 die-hards who crossed the state line (drunkenly in a bus is the only way they will do it), so expect a gritty battle filled with scoring chances. RSL is facing the most shots of any team this year—averaging 17.3 shots against—so this could be an entertaining game.

The Rapids will be wearing white kits today instead of their regular gold to bring awareness about ocean plastic pollution. Last Earth Day weekend, only four clubs participated, but this year, all MLS teams are wearing kits made from up-cycled plastic.

Predicted starting XI: Tim Howard, Deklan Wynne, Axel Sjoberg, Tommy Smith, Dillon Serna, Enzo Martinez, Jack Price, Johan Blomberg, Edgar Castillo, Shkelzen Gashi, Dom Badji.

Injuries/Suspensions

Colorado

QUESTIONABLE: N/A

OUT: Kortne Ford (left MCL sprain), D - Marlon Hairston (right knee surgery), D - Danny Wilson (ankle)

Real Salt Lake

QUESTIONABLE: D - Shawn Barry (hamstring), M - Luke Mulholland (hamstring), D - Demar Phillips (ankle), D - Marcelo Silva (groin)

OUT: D - Tony Beltran (right knee surgery), M - Jordan Allen (knee), D - Taylor Peay (knee)

How to Watch

Match Date/Time: Saturday, April 21st @ 7 pm MST

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, Utah

TV Information: AltitudeTV

Radio: Altitude950

Live Stream: MLS Live (blackouts apply)

C38 Viewing Parties:

Downtown - Celtic on Market in Denver 1400 Market St, Denver

South - Blue Spruce Brewing 4151 E County Line Rd G, Centennial

Halfpenny Brewing - 5150 East Arapahoe Road

North - Murphy’s Tap House - 585 McCaslin Blvd, Louisville

East - Cheluna Brewing - Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St, Aurora