It’s once again that special time of year when the Colorado Rapids square off against Real Salt Lake for the Rocky Mountain Cup. This weekend’s match is the first of three in the regular season series to determine who will hoist the trophy.
Despite playing three times in the regular season in 2020, only the two matches in Colorado and Utah counted towards the RMC standings. The match in Orlando in the MLS is Back Tournament was viewed by the supporters’ groups of both clubs as a standalone game, separate from the RMC.
After dropping the match in Colorado, the Rapids needed a miracle in Sandy, Utah, to bring back the Cup. Then the miracle happened, and the Rapids won, 5-0, marking a victory in the RMC and the first-ever win at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Now we’re back and you know RSL will be looking to avenge what happened to them on their home turf. The Rapids currently sit in fourth place in the West and RSL are below the red line in eighth. Here’s how Colorado can go get all three points.
Enjoy the Ball
Per fbref.com, RSL are dead last in MLS in pressures with 1,793. On top of that, they’re third from last in pressure success percentage at 25.7%. They’re pressuring ball carriers less than anybody else in the league, and they’re not successful when they do pressure. This could be a big game for Colorado to be decisive and accurate in their passing. If they’re not turning the ball over with poor passing, miscommunication and mistimed balls, they should have time to build up and create good looks on goal.
Seize the Moment
In the second half of the 2-0 victory over FC Dallas, we saw Robin Fraser utilize all five of his available substitutions. The schedule is getting busy in a hurry, three players are still away on international duty and Younes Namli is still rehabbing from ankle surgery. Despite all of this, the Rapids finished their four-game homestand without a loss. I don’t know many teams in this league that could do that, and a major reason why the Rapids were able to do so is because of the depth of the roster. It will continue to be tested but Fraser has demonstrated and spoken about how much he trusts everybody in the locker room.
Once again, closing out the keys to the game with something simple. But soccer is a simple game that doesn’t always need to be overcomplicated. Both sides will undoubtedly employ tactics that will be nearly imperceptible to the untrained eye, but rivalry matches are famous for throwing the records out. They so often come down to who wants it more. We saw a hungry Rapids side at Rio Tinto in 2020 that simply wanted it more. Do the same thing. Fight for your teammates, fight for the fans, fight for the badge.