Categorized | Also Noted

RSL to host first leg of Rocky Mountain Cup

Posted on 24 September 2010 by kali

Real Salt Lake has checked a few items off of its to-do list over the past week:

Claim the league home unbeaten streak with a win over the Chicago Fire last Saturday?  Check.

Earn a crucial CONCACAF Champions League victory in Panama to put the team in excellent position to advance?  Check.

Get a few of the team’s key players some well-deserved rest?  Check.

Next on that list is claiming a victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium (8 pm MT, Fox Soccer Channel), an accomplishment that would not only give RSL a leg up in this year’s Rocky Mountain Cup but also substantially boost the team’s Supporters Shield chances.  However, a result won’t come easy in a heated rivalry match that has playoff implications for both teams, as the Rapids are seeking to earn a playoff berth of their own.

While Real’s tough schedule may put his team at a bit of a disadvantage, coach Jason Kreis left several players home from Panama to mitigate some of those concerns.  Frequent starters Andy Williams, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, and Javier Morales remained in Utah to rest and in Morales’ case, recover from a minor injury, giving Kreis some fresher legs for Saturday’s match.  However, injuries remain a bit of a concern for RSL, as Morales (quad strain), Fabian Espindola (hamstring), Robbie Findley (knee), Paulo Junior (hamstring), Robbie Russell (concussion), and Alvaro Saborio (knee) all continue to manage their injury problems.

Meanwhile, Colorado will be without striker Omar Cummings, who has 10 goals in league play this year, due to an ankle injury, dealing a tough blow to the Rapids.  In addition, defender Julian Baudet is doubtful with a hamstring injury and goalkeeper Matt Pickens probable despite a groin strain.  However, Brian Mullan, who was recently acquired from Houston, will give the Colorado midfield an additional spark, while fellow newcomer Macoumba Kandji could start up front in Cummings’ place.

On the other hand, intensity certainly shouldn’t be a problem for either team.  After a relatively low-key Rocky Mountain Cup competition in RSL’s inaugural season in 2005, the Salt Lake-Rapids rivalry has grown increasingly heated since an incident in Utah during the 2006 season.  Trades between the two sides upped the ante even more, and Real has eliminated Colorado from the playoffs in the last match of the season in the past two years.  Factor in the playoff implications, and all the makings of a tense rivalry match should be present on Saturday.

For his part, Kreis will be looking for RSL to bring more vivacity than it did last Saturday against the Chicago Fire.  He said of his players after the victory in Panama, “We really needed a couple of guys to show a bit more energy than we have the past couple of games. I always say, it’s interesting how the players who seem to show the most energy and passion for the game are getting rewarded … so that’s good.”

And with that kind of effort, Real will be looking to check another item off of its list.

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