Preview: Rapids Visit Real Salt Lake in First Rocky Mountain Cup Clash of 2021
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. â After a successful four-game homestand, the Colorado Rapids (7-3-3, 24 points) head to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake (4-4-5, 17 points) on Saturday, July 24, in the first Rocky Mountain Cup tilt of the season. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium, with pregame coverage beginning on Altitude Sports at 7:30 p.m. and Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM at 7:45 p.m.
"Another big game against a good opponent and our rival," Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said. "We're getting into the time of year where everyone's playing a lot of games and there will be a lot of factors to deal with. But certainly, we have to get ready because they are a very good team with some very good players."
Colorado enters the match following a four-game homestand during which the Rapids went undefeated and allowed just two goals. On July 4, the Rapids tied league-leader Seattle Sounders FC, 1-1, before cruising to a 2-0 victory over Minnesota on July 7. Colorado earned another point in a 1-1 draw with San Jose on July 17 and took three points with a 2-0 win over FC Dallas on Wednesday.
Defender Lalas Abubakar scored the game-winning goal against Dallas, a thundering header off a Jack Price corner delivery. The goal was Abubakar's first of the season and earned him a place on the Week 14 MLS Team of the Week and a Player of the Week nomination. It was also Colorado's 32nd goal off a set piece or corner kick since 2019, by far the most in MLS in that span.
Forward Michael Barrios scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season with a dipping, right-footed shot from distance to make it 2-0. Diego Rubio earned his third assist on the goal, while Price's assist was his fifth of 2021. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough was called on for just two saves to earn his MLS-leading sixth clean sheet of the season as the Rapids picked up a seventh point against Dallas this season.
Real Salt Lake built a 2-0 lead 26 minutes in against LA Galaxy on Wednesday, but goals from Victor Vazquez and Rayan Raveloson scored to secure a 2-2 draw. Damir Kreilach leads RSL with seven goals, while Aaron Herrera leads the team with six assists.
The Rapids have won both their previous two matches at Rio Tinto Stadium, albeit against different opponents. On Sept. 12, 2020, Colorado erased a three-goal deficit on aggregate to reclaim the Rocky Mountain Cup with a 5-0 win, with goals from Sam Vines, Braian Galván and Cole Bassett, as well as a brace from Rubio. Colorado defeated temporary tenant Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 1-0, on May 2, thanks to Rubio's free kick golazo. This is the first of three Rocky Mountain Cup clashes this season. RSL visits Colorado on Aug. 21 before the Rapids return to Utah on Oct. 16.
This is the first meeting between the rivals since Rapids club legend Pablo Mastroeni joined the RSL technical staff as an assistant coach in January. Mastroeni captained Colorado to the 2010 MLS Cup championship and coached the club to its best ever regular season finish in 2016. The club retired Mastroeni's No. 25 on the Fourth of July.
"It's much the same as what we've been doing throughout the season," Rapids defender Danny Wilson said. "If we keep ourselves tight and compact and we've got players that can counter at the top of the field with great pace, and also when we have the ball, we're capable of opening teams up. We go in there, we're well aware that it's an away game, our third match this week, so we go in there trying to play a smart game and try to get the three points."
News & Notes
The Rapids will be without M Kellyn Acosta, F Jonathan Lewis and D Sam Vines, who are all with the 23-player U.S. Men's National Team at Concacaf Gold Cup. Vines is the first Rapids Academy product to be named to the USMNT for a senior international tournament. Vines scored his first USMNT goal in the 1-0 win over Haiti in Group B action. Colorado is tied with Atlanta for the most players on the USMNT Gold Cup roster.
Rapids HC Robin Fraser began his coaching career with RSL as an assistant, helping the club win their first and only MLS Cup so far in 2009.
Colorado holds the second-best shot conversion rate (exc. blocks) in MLS: 17.65%
The Rapids are the only team in MLS not to concede a goal in the final 15 minutes of matches this season. Colorado has allowed just four second-half goals, the fewest in MLS.
M Cole Bassett is 44 minutes from setting a career-high in a single season with 1,064 minutes. Bassett played 1,063 minutes in 20 appearances, 14 as a starter, in 2019. The 19-year-old next appearance will be his 54th in MLS, passing D Sam Vines for second-most by a Rapids Academy product (M/D Dillon Serna, 105).
M Jack Price leads the team with five assists in 2021. A different teammate has scored all five goals.
GK William Yarbrough is tied for the league lead with six clean sheets and is tied for second with seven wins.
F Diego Rubio's next start will be his 50th since joining the Rapids ahead of 2019. The 28-year-old Chilean has 17 goals and 12 assists in 54 appearances with Colorado.
M Collen Warner started his career with RSL in 2010. The Denver native played 37 games for the Utah side, earning a career-high five assists in 2011. On Wednesday, Warner made his 10th appearance in Burgundy since joining the Colorado in 2020.
On July 4, the Rapids retired the number of club legend Pablo Mastroeni, who captained the Rapids to the 2010 MLS Cup championship and coached them to their best regular season finish in 2016. Mastroeni joined the Real Salt Lake technical staff as an assistant coach in January.
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- Preview: Rapids Visit Real Salt Lake in First Rocky Mountain Cup Clash of 2021 - Colorado Rapids
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