When the Rapids take on with Real Salt Lake this weekend, they’ll do so on a four-match undefeated streak that began after the first match with RSL. For the visitors, they’ve gone unbeaten in four of the five matches since Leg One of the Rocky Mountain Cup.
With both teams coming into this one in good form and both occupying playoff positions, you can expect an additional intensity that already lives in this rivalry with the RMC on the line. And while the Rapids are trailing in the RMC matchup by three points, there are still 180 minutes left to be played, and we’ve very recently seen the Burgundy Boys overcome more.
Rocky Mountain Cup, playoff positioning, bragging rights. Everything is up in the air in this one. Here’s how the Rapids can get all three points and fight back in the RMC.
Win at Home
There are three games on the RMC schedule this season, and it’s RSL who get two home games while the Rapids only have one. If the Rapids want to come back, they can help themselves by winning the one game at home and doing it in convincing fashion. This is a chance to tip the scales back in your own favor heading into what could be a decisive final match in Sandy, Utah.
The Rapids found success Tuesday evening in Carson, Calif., by putting Jonathan Lewis in the striker role and letting him use his speed to run wild between the Galaxy defenders. He earned – and converted – a penalty to open the scoring, and then followed it up with several more runs into the box that left the Galaxy backline bewildered. It wasn’t a move anybody expected, and continued to show the versatility of this team. We’ve seen the side seamlessly switch between two center backs and three, three forwards and two, fullbacks and wingbacks and now Jonathan Lewis blitzing down the middle. How will the Rapids line up and who will line up where? There’s no way to know.
It’s one thing for a soccer team to be able to play multiple formations and have guys fill various roles; any given MLS match will see teams change formations. But it’s that the Rapids can do it so well, home or away, that is important.
Carry the Momentum
Heading into the first RMC matchup a few weeks ago in Utah, I repeated myself several times over, saying, “Nobody has forgotten what happened the last time the Rapids went to Rio Tinto.” And nobody will soon forget the most legendary comeback in this rivalry. But it’s time to forget the 3-0 loss from a few weeks ago. Short memories are one of the skills pro athletes need to have to be successful. Everybody has games where things don’t go their way, and despite the Rapids playing well in that one, they still took the loss. The Rapids have won three of four since the last meeting, so if they can keep that momentum going, it will go a long way towards keeping the Rocky Mountain Cup.