Know Your Opponent: Rapids Prepare for Conclusion of Rocky Mountain Cup against Real Salt Lake
On Saturday, October 16 the Colorado Rapids (14-5-9, 51 points) will take on Real Salt Lake (11-11-6, 39 points) for the third and final leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM.
Colorado and RSL have already met twice this season, taking one point apiece in the Rocky Mountain Cup. In July, the Rapids fell in a 3-0 loss to open the series but battled hard in a come-from-behind 2-1 win in August at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids took home the Rocky Mountain Cup in 2020 after initially falling to RSL 4-1 in the sides' first meeting at home, only to redeem themselves by making up the four goal differential with a 5-0 shutout in their next meeting to take the cup title. The five-goal margin of victory remains the largest in club history, tied with the Rapids' defeat of San Jose by the same score weeks later.
In its last match on October 2, RSL's effort to come from behind a Cecilio Domínguez brace fell short in a 2-1 road loss to Austin FC. Since bringing Pablo Mastroeni on as interim head coach in August, RSL's record is 4-4. The Rapids have not yet faced a Real Salt Lake side since Mastroeni's time at the helm. RSL currently sits No. 5 in the Western Conference standings, two points ahead of Vancouver and on the hunt for one of the last three playoff spots. Coming off a loss and extended break from game play, RSL will try to use its home field advantage and extra time to rest against the Rapids on Saturday to clinch the Rocky Mountain Cup.
Key Players to Watch
Real Salt Lake's All-Star striker Damir Kreilach and Slovakian international teammate Albert Rusnák have a combined 36 goals and assists in MLS this season and pose an attacking threat to the Rapids defense. Rusnák and RSL goalkeeper David Ochoa are returning from international duty with Slovakia and Mexico to compete against the Rapids. Ochoa was recently named to MLS's 22 Under 22 list, along with Rapids Homegrown Cole Bassett, for his performance in the net for RSL, where he has recorded 61 saves and four shutouts.
On the Pitch
Since last facing RSL, the Rapids have only taken one loss, compared to RSL's four defeats.
RSL currently holds an 11-5 Rocky Mountain Cup record over the Rapids
Colorado's most recent victory over Minnesota United FC marked the club's seventh away win in 2021, setting a new club record for most wins on the road in a season in the post-shoutout era. The Rapids' 7-4-3 road record is the third-best in MLS.
Mastroeni is both a former player and head coach of the Rapids, playing from 2002 to 2013 and taking over as head coach in 2014 through 2017.
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