Preview: Colorado vs Salt Lake
COLORADO RAPIDS vs REAL SALT LAKE
DICK’S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
Oct. 14, 2011
8:30 p.m. MT (ESPN2 / Deportes / TSN2)
Yet again, a late-season Rocky Mountain Cup clash will be fraught with playoff implications when the Colorado Rapids play host to Real Salt Lake on Friday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are still holding onto a wild card spot, giving their ambitions a big boost and ending a long winless run in a 1-0 win against FC Dallas last time out. Real have already secured a postseason berth, but come into the game on a four-game losing slide after a 3-0 loss at Vancouver last week, now holding third place and an automatic qualifying spot by just five points.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Juan Guzman MLS Career: 141 games; FC/gm: 26.8; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 42; pens: 54
COLORADO RAPIDS-OUT: FW Conor Casey (L achilles tear); DF Anthony Wallace (R knee arthroscopic surgery); QUESTIONABLE: FW Caleb Folan (L ankle sprain); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); MF Jamie Smith (R hamstring strain / R calf strain)
REAL SALT LAKE-OUT: DF Tony Beltran (L adductor strain); MF Nelson Gonzßlez (R foot fracture); MF Will Johnson (R ankle sprain); DOUBTFUL: MF Ned Grabavoy (L adductor strain); GK Kyle Reynish (R ankle bone spur); QUESTIONABLE: FW Chris Agorsor (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Robbie Russell (R hamstring strain)
COL: Miguel Comminges (through Oct. 16)...RSL: Kyle Beckerman (through Oct. 23); Collen Warner (through Oct. 16)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: COL: Conor Casey, Caleb Folan, Brian Mullan, Sanna Nyassi
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Ross LaBauex, Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Wells Thompson, Anthony Wallace...RSL: Jean Alexandre, Javier Morales, Robbie Russell, Collen Warner, Chris Wingert
- ALL-TIME (21 meetings): Real 7 wins, 22 goals...Rapids 8 wins, 22 goals... Ties 6
- AT COLORADO (10 meetings): Rapids 5 wins, 14 goals...Real 2 wins, 10 goals ...Ties 3
- In the first meeting this season of the Rocky Mountain Cup rivals, Fabian Espindola scored deep into second-half stoppage time to give Real a dramatic 1-0 victory, April 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
- The teams play for the Rocky Mountain Cup, awarded to the winner of the season series by supporters’ groups from both clubs.
- Colorado won the Rocky Mountain Cup the first two years it was on offer before RSL took it in 2007, claiming the trophy in a 1-0 win in the regular season finale at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Real have held onto the trophy each of the last three seasons, a pair of goals from Alvaro Saborio in stoppage time sealing a dramatic 2-2 draw in the season finale.
- Last-day results sent RSL into the MLS Cup Playoffs ahead of their Rocky Mountain rivals in back-to-back years. Real defeated Colorado 3-0, Oct. 24, 2009 at Rio Tinto Stadium, after a Yura Movsisyan goal in the 90th minute of the season finale at Dick’s Sporting Goods gave RSL a 1-1 draw in 2008. In 2007, a Robbie Findley goal gave RSL a 1-0 win and again ended the Rapids’ playoff hopes, though Real also did not qualify.
- Coaches record: Jason Kreis v COL: P12 W5 L2 D5...Gary Smith vs. RSL: P8 W1 L3 D4
LAST MEETING (MLS)
- 4/13: RSL 1, COL 0 (Espindola 93+)
- Once again, late dramatics settled a Rocky Mountain Cup match. Three minutes into stoppage time, Javier Morales lined up a free kick from 25 yards out. His attempt at goal hit the right post and rebounded to Paulo Junior. He was able only to push it forward, but Espindola swung out his leg to drive the ball into the back of the net for the game winner.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy - Javier Morales - Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio (Paulo Jr. 69).
- COLORADO RAPIDS (4-1-3-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor - Jeff Larentowicz - Brian Mullan, Jamie Smith (Andre Akpan 86), Wells Thompson - Omar Cummings (Quincy Amarikwa 63 / Sanna Nyassi 69), Caleb Folan.
The Colorado Rapids put an end to their winless run at five games, defeating FC Dallas 1-0 at Pizza Hut Park on Oct. 1. The Rapids have 45 points from 32 games, sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference.
- The game's lone goal came in the 25th minute. Sanna Nyassi swung in a corner from the right side and Drew Moor rose up to drive a powerful header into the back of the net, his second goal in as many games.
- The Rapids finished the game a man down after Miguel Comminges was sent off in the 74th minute following a second bookable offense, but FCD could not capitalize.
- Rapids head coach Gary Smith made one change to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Brian Mullan came into the side in place of Caleb Folan.
- COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Miguel Comminges (sent off 74) - Brian Mullan, Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith (Tyrone Marshall 77) - Sanna Nyassi (Wells Thompson 81), Omar Cummings (Macoumba Kandji 85).
- After a split-squad came away from a victory in El Salvador at midweek in the CONCACAF Champions League, the Rapids won for the first time in league play since Aug. 13.
- “It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for a week like this. Some big decisions to make, I felt they were the right ones, and I’ve been vindicated in that with the two results that we had,” said Rapids head coach Gary Smith.
- Said club captain Pablo Mastroeni: “We’ve been without a [league] win for a while now, and I think finishing off the way we did against San Jose, and not being able to get that second goal, left us a bit empty. The guys going away midweek and really performing in what I think is the most difficult environment that we’ve played in all year, and coming out with that positive energy coming back to the club, it just lifted all of us playing in this game today. It’s a team effort, and we’re going to need everyone.”
- The Rapids held on to eighth place overall with the win, still two points ahead of the final wild card spots in the chase for the 10 berths in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
- “To beat Dallas means that we go that much closer to them, and hopefully puts a little bit more pressure on them to get some results, so we’re going to try to chase them down,” said Rapids head coach Gary Smith. “(And) a clean sheet, which is nice always to get.”
- Center back Drew Moor has scored the last two goals for the Rapids and now has four this season, a career single-season high.
- “Scoring early goals always gives you confidence, especially when it’s the first one. I thought we showed great character last week, coming back after going down a goal. This week we showed character the other way, by protecting a lead, which we’ve had trouble doing at times throughout the season,” Moor said. “To score an early goal like that, give yourself some confidence, and to see it all the way though the 95 minutes is a huge win.”
- Omar Cummings joined Jamaica for a pair of international friendlies after the win against FC Dallas, as did midfielder Jeff Larentowicz (USA) and goalkeeper Steward Ceus (Haiti), but Sanna Nyassi declined a call from The Gambia for an African Nations Cup qualifier.
- "Even if we win, our chances of qualifying are slim," Nyassi said of his team's outlook. "So I thought it was better to stay here and help my team make the playoffs. I think it's better to stay then to go all the way to Africa and return with tired legs. I talked to the federation and they understood everything and said no problem."
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake had their losing skid hit four games, dropping a 3-0 decision to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Thursday evening at BC Place. RSL is in third place in the Western Conference, with 51 points from 32 matches.
- Whitecaps FC were two goals to the good from penalty kicks on either side of halftime. First, in the 43rd minute, RSL midfielder Collen Warner was adjudged to have used his hand to stop Jay DeMerit's header on the line. Warner was sent off and Camilo stepped up to the spot, sending goalkeeper Nick Rimando the wrong way for the opener.
- Then eight minutes into the second half, RSL defender Chris Schuler was ruled to have handled the ball in the box after it ricocheted off a teammate, and Camilo again did the honors to double the Vancouver lead.
- The home side capped the victory two minutes from end when Nizar Khalfan left fly from outside the area. Rimando managed to get a hand on the shot, but Khalfan’s strike had too much sting and he could only direct the ball into the corner of his goal.
- RSL head coach Jason Kreis made four changes to the team that fell to a 2-1 defeat by the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center. Andy Williams and Collen Warner came into the midfield for Yordany Alvarez and Will Johnson, and Paulo Junior and Luis Gil were an all-change strike pair in place of the suspended Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler (Robbie Russell 59) - Andy Williams, Ned Grabavoy (Chris Agorsor 80), Collen Warner (sent off 43) - Javier Morales - Paulo Jr. (Cody Arnoux 46), Luis Gil.
- Real Salt Lake have followed a five-game winning streak, the longest in MLS this season, with a four-game losing slide which is one short of the season-long and the club’s longest since 2007.
- “It’s fair, it is concerning, but we feel we have the leadership in the locker room to overcome that and once we get everybody back and healthy, we feel good about ourselves,” said assistant coach Jeff Cassar.
- Cassar was the bench boss for the Vancouver match, with head coach Jason Kreis suffering a bout of food poisoning on gameday and forced to watch the match from the media level.
- A victory against Colorado, plus the failure of FC Dallas to win any of their remaining matches, and Real Salt Lake will be guaranteed of a top three spot in the Western Conference and will not have to face a wild card match to open the MLS Cup Playoffs.
- “It’s better to lose now than later. The playoffs are coming so we have to improve right now and figure this out as soon as possible so we’re ready for the playoffs,” said Javier Morales. “It’s difficult when you lose and we’ve lost the last three games so it’s hard to get into good form.”
- When Collen Warner was sent off vs. Vancouver, it was the fourth red card Real have seen in the last nine games, since Aug. 27.
- “We have been a little undisciplined whether it has been on set plays or not focusing on the details and again with the red card, with not defending the set play well, silly foul that leads to the set play,” Cassar said. “What we need is a good week of training to prepare for Colorado.”
- Already missing some key performers to international duty and suspension, Real were without two further midfielders for the trip to Vancouver. Yordany Alvarez was not able to enter Canada with visa issues, and Arturo Alvarez was not with the team in order to tend to a death in his family.
- “We were a bit thin in the midfield as with Alvarez’s grandmother passing away, so we didn’t have as many options as we wanted to, especially down a goal,” said Cassar.
- Chris Agorsor made his MLS debut, coming on for the final 11 minutes. Cody Arnoux made his second league appearance, his first since Sept. 3, coming on at halftime.
- Real will have Jean Alexandre (Haiti), Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman (both USA) all back from international duty, though Beckerman is suspended for the final two league games.
- There could be a blow from international matches, however: Will Johnson was forced off early in Canada’s win against St. Lucia and excused from the national team before the match vs. Puerto Rico; he is listed as out in the club’s injury report for the Colorado game.