Rocky Mountain Cup
Garrett Ellwood/Colorado Rapids

Rivals up next for the Rapids in Tucson

Following the midweek loss to the Chicago Fire, the Colorado Rapids return to match action on Saturday for their second game of the Desert Diamond Cup presented by FC Tucson, against Real Salt Lake, kick-off 3.30 p.m MT. You can watch the match live via a web stream, by clicking here.

The Rapids have managed to settle into their base in Tucson the past couple of days, after a hectic 48 hours, during which they played Chivas USA in Las Vegas, returned to Denver and then flew to Arizona, before facing the Fire on Wednesday.

According to Pablo Mastroeni, who is in charge of first-team duties, the fact that his side is facing Rocky Mountain Cup rivals RSL matters little at this stage.

“From my perspective, at this moment, it’s not (any different to other preseason games),” admitted Mastroeni. “I think some of the guys on the field might give it an extra go tomorrow.

“Obviously, we want to keep on improving on those things we set out to achieve in the preseason, and I think every game is going to become more and more intense.”

Having won their opening three games of preseason, the Rapids have since lost the previous two outings. They were defeated by Chivas USA in Vegas and then Chicago Fire in Tucson, both by two goals to one.

“The players will have a bit more desire to go out and achieve those things (we’ve been working on),” added Mastroeni. “And, obviously, if we do those little things right, then I think the results will be a by-product of that.”

With the start of the MLS season now just two weeks away (the Rapids open a week later at New York Red Bulls on March 15), Mastroeni is eager for his players to begin sharpening their senses, in readiness for the off.

“We’re getting to the point where we’re a couple of weeks away, so we need to look at game management – what we’re looking to achieve, depending on how the game is going,” he said.

“So, just being aware of the different circumstances that occur in the game and, collectively as a group, how do they do that on the field and take that type of responsibility?

“That’s what we set out at the beginning of the year, and every game has got a bit better and against an opponent like Salt Lake, it’d be good to see that come to fruition.”

Despite having come off second best in the two most recent encounters, the result against Real Salt Lake – on this occasion – is not the priority, as the Rocky Mountain Cup holders (pictured top) build toward the regular season and the real deal.

“In sport, obviously everyone wants to win,” Mastroeni told “But the important thing for me is to set down a process that we feel, as a staff, needs to be had in order to achieve your goal.

“You can’t get there by by-passing the important aspects of the game that we think are critical and fundamental to the action of getting the result.”