COMMERCE CITY, Colo. ― The Rocky Mountain Cup will be on the line when the fourth-place Colorado Rapids (10-4-4, 34 points) host fifth-place Real Salt Lake (7-6-6, 27 points) on Saturday, Aug. 21. Kickoff is set for 7 PM at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, with pregame coverage beginning on Altitude Sports at 6:30 PM and on Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM at 6:45 PM
“We have to continue to do the things that we’re doing,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said. “We’ve been making it difficult for the opposition to get into their rhythm. We need to continue to do that. On the attacking end, just really when we’re disciplined about the places we need to be and make good decisions with the ball, we create good opportunities. It’s a group that has worked extremely hard to achieve the little success that we’re now having. It’s very much about discipline and hard work and teamwork. These are all things that are synonymous with this team.”
The Rapids enter the match winners of two straight and three of their last four. Colorado picked up six points on its recent road trip with a 3-1 win in Houston on Saturday and a 2-1 win at LA Galaxy on Tuesday. Lalas Abubakar, Michael Barrios and Braian Galván scored in Texas, while Jonathan Lewis and Andre Shinyashiki found the back of the net in Carson, Calif.
Fraser was named MLS Coach of the Week for the first time this season following Colorado’s fourth and fifth road wins of the season, while Galván was named to the MLS Team of the Week for his golazo at Houston and his 84-minute performance at Galaxy.
Captain Jack Price earned his team-leading sixth assist of the season on Abubakar’s goal, while Barrios continued his strong form with his fifth goal of the season. Lewis earned his penalty kick and rifled it into the net for his second goal of 2021, while Shinyashiki scored his fourth just one minute after entering the match. Colorado is undefeated in its last eight matches at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, winning five.
The Rapids will look to defend the Rocky Mountain Cup with a result on Saturday. Colorado must win or draw to stay alive in the hunt for the Rocky Mountain Cup, after RSL’s win on July 24. These teams will face off for the third and final time this season on Oct. 16 in Utah.
Real Salt Lake is coming off wins over Houston and Austin in the last week. Bobby Wood scored to lead RSL to a 1-0 win over Austin on Saturday, while Justin Meram and Anderson Julio scored in the 2-1 win over Dynamo FC.
Damir Kreilach leads RSL and is tied for eighth in MLS with eight goals, while Aaron Herrera paces the club with six assists.
The match will mark the return of Rapids legend Pablo Mastroeni, who joined the RSL technical staff as an assistant coach in January. The club retired Mastroeni’s No. 25 on July 4. This is Mastroeni’s first return to DICK’S Sporting Goods Park with fans in attendance as an opposing coach.
“It’s really exciting, especially for the fans,” midfielder Cole Bassett said of the Rocky Mountain Cup clash. “To win it last year when we hadn’t won it in a couple years was big for [the supporters]. It provided a big boost for our season. It was probably the highlight of our season, besides making it to the playoffs. We were disappointed with how we did in Salt Lake but we’re back at home. We’re in front of our home fans. Last year we were down 4-1 before the second leg and we went in and won 5-nil. For us, we have the confidence that we can go in and do the same exact thing, but really it’s just starting off fast and getting off to a hot start.”
News & Notes
- The Rapids’ next win at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park will be their 200th all-time at home.
- Cole Bassett has hit the woodwork three times in his last two games. Bassett is second in MLS with five shots off the frame this season. Bassett’s next assist will be the 10th of his MLS career; he would become the first Rapids Academy product to reach the milestone.
- Michael Barrios has seven assists in 13 career matches against RSL.
- Steven Beitashour has six assists in 19 career matches against RSL, the most he has against any MLS opponent.
- Drew Moor’s next appearance against RSL will be the 34th of his MLS career, the most he has against any MLS opponent.
- Auston Trusty’s next start will be the 80th of his career. Trusty has played all 1,620 minutes for Colorado this season, adding two assists.
- Former Sam Vines made his first start for Royal Antwerp (Belgium) in Europa League Qualification on Thursday. Vines played 90 minutes as Antwerp lost, 4-2, to Omonia Nicosia (Cyprus).