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Game Preview& Starting XI: Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake

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It’s the third game of the Rocky Mountain Cup!

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the final match of the Rocky Mountain Cup and you almost wouldn’t know the Rapids are down four goals on aggregate. Every headline out of Rapids camp reads something like “We’ll bring the cup back” or “We know how important this is to the fans”. Well, it is because the fans—nay the supporters—are the reason there is an RMC.

In 2015, the Rapids were just as good as they are now and went into Dallas and punched FC Dallas in the face 4-1. Claudio Lopez was coach at that time because Pablo Mastroeni was out due to a red card the week before. The Rapids have not scored four goals in a game since.

Both Pablo and Coach Hudson had similar theories as to who should be starting and why, both of which have gotten the team similar results: lots of losses. The idea of “he who trains the hardest, starts on game day” comes from club ball, then carries into high school and some colleges, but not the pros. It’s been said before that we are a great training team, but that training team gets rolled over on game day because we don’t play our best players. The debate on the value of hard work versus talent can go on forever, what every team needs is a combination of the two.

Though both coaching styles are very different, the results and seasons have been very similar, and I believe it’s because of the caliber of players we put on the field. When we start the guys who have to play hard because every day is a fight to stay on the team, it shows on game day when the opponent has a roster full of talent. It takes counter attacks and set pieces to win when you are under-classed and out-matched every game.

But this match against RSL means a lot, and the problem is that this club—no matter who is on the roster, who the coach is, or who the GM is—has not been able to score four goals in one game in more than three years.

That being said, I’d love to be proven wrong.

So now let’s focus on the rest of what the Rapids are facing tonight. RSL come to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park having won on the road against Houston last week. RSL have only won twice on the road so far this season, which does add a bit of value to the Rapids’ cause.

Salt Lake is riddled with injuries this season, and the newest member to their injury list is Nick Rimando, who tweaked his hamstring last week. He is listed as questionable, but if their starting keeper is out, this will also help the Rapids’ cause.

Unfortunately, Colorado is also a bit banged up as far as injuries. The difference between the two is that the Rapids have a few small nagging injuries, while RSL have a few serious ones that ended the season for some. Sam Nicholson may still be out with some back issues and Axel Sjoberg is out because he actually sprained his MCL. Jack Price and Jack McBean have had some concerns with their feet and Kortne Ford is on concession protocol.

Overall RSL has the edge with an 18-13-11 record but are 5-10-5 when crossing over the continental divide. Sadly, we have seen RSL lift the Cup in our house more often than we’d like.

While this rivalry was created by the supporters, it never had to be forced. Rapids fans have seen RSL rip out their hearts on numerous occasions and would really, really like to return the favor. The Rapids could be down another two goals and the vast majority of the supporters would still hope for a win. We just want to see the Burgundy Boys stick it to RSL. They may have the RMC all but locked up but they won’t get it without giving up three points tonight.

COLORADO RAPIDS STARTING XI:

Colorado

OUT: D - Axel Sjoberg (knee injury)

QUESTIONABLE: M - Sam Nicholson (back), D - Kortne Ford (concussion protocol)

PROBABLE: F - Giles Barnes (ankle), F - Jack McBean (foot), M - Jack Price (back), D/M - Edgar Castillo (hip/groin)

Suspended: None

Suspended after next caution: F - Jack McBean, D - Kortne Ford

Salt Lake

OUT: D - Tony Beltran (right knee surgery), M - Jordan Allen (knee surgery), GK - Alex Horwath (Achilles surgery), M - Luke Mulholland (back injury), D - David Horst (Achilles surgery), F - Ricky Lopez-Espin (knee surgery), GK - Connor Sparrow (knee injury)

QUESTIONABLE: D - Marcelo Silva (ankle injury), GK - Nick Rimando (hamstring injury), M - Pablo Ruiz (knee injury)

Suspended: none

Suspended after next caution: D - Marcelo Silva

How to Watch

Match Date/Time: Saturday, August 25th at 7 pm MT

Venue: Dicks Sporting Goods Park — Commerce City, CO

TV Information: AltitudeTV

Radio: Altitude950

Live Stream: ESPN+ (subscription required)

C38 Tailgate starts @4pm