Categorized | Game Previews

Rocky Mountain Rivalry Continues

Posted on 29 August 2008 by Patrick McShane

Real Salt Lake (7-8-6, 27 pts.) and the Colorado Rapids (7-11-3, 24 pts.) reignite their rivalry in a rare Friday night clash at Rice-Eccles Stadium. This will be the second of three matches between both teams in this year’s Rocky Mountain Cup series and is the only match that RSL will host this season.

Both teams are crawling into this match with a string of recent poor performances. RSL has been on the other side of two lopsided losses on the road to the Columbus Crew and the Houston Dynamo, leaving their once-heralded defense in question. Many attributed the first loss to Houston, a 4-3 shootout, to the yellow card suspension of outstanding Colombian defender Jamison Olave. Little could have predicted that upon his return the following week, RSL would fall 3-0 to the Crew in resounding defeat. RSL never seemed to work their way into the match and found themselves down by two goals heading into half time. One thing that seems apparent is just how damaging RSL’s lack of a healthy midfield and wing defense was in both matches. Typical starters Dema Kovalenko and Ian Joy as well as standout rookie Tony Beltran have all been battling injuries that have kept them out of the past two matches.

Colorado, on the other hand, is also suffering from a glut of injuries in midfield. In fact, four midfielders are listed as out for Friday’s match, notably Pablo Mastroeni and Terry Cooke. This won’t bode well for a Colorado squad that is in desperate need for a win as they try to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot in the crowded Western Conference. Colorado lost last Saturday for the third time in four games as they fell 3-0 to D.C. United. After stunning the Kansas City Wizards the week before in new manager Gary Smith’s first match, Colorado also appeared uninspired and lacked a creative edge. One would have to think that their control and activity on the offensive end might be missing again this week in large part due to their lack of depth in midfield.

RSL captured the Rocky Mountain Cup for the first time last season, defeating Colorado 1-0 on the road in the regular season finale due to a stunning late match goal by Robbie Findley. If RSL’s supporters want to keep the trophy in Utah for another season, this match is a must-win due to the series only including three matches this season. Look for both teams to continue their heated rivalry with each squad containing former members of both teams, notably RSL captain Kyle Beckerman, Nat Borchers, and recent addition Clint Mathis.

The match will begin at 7:00 p.m. MT and will be shown on Altitude as well as MLS Direct Kick

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