Colorado Rapids vs Real Salt Lake
MLS Regular Season, Week 11
May 7, 2019 - 7:00 PM
DICK'S Sporting Goods Park - Commerce City, Colorado
Casey is no stranger to the Rocky Mountain rivalry
If anyone knows how important the Rocky Mountain Cup is and how much it means to the Colorado Rapids, it's interim head coach Conor Casey. The former Rapids striker (2007-2012) featured in seven games against RSL and helped his hometown squad lift the trophy in 2007 during his first year with the club. The Gallery of Honor inductee went on to score three goals and one assist from 2008-2010 against Real Salt Lake.
Saturday will mark Casey's first Rocky Mountain Cup match at the helm, and just his second match as interim head coach. Real Salt Lake's current head coach Mike Petke was teammates with Casey for two seasons at the Rapids from 2007-2008. On the field for the opposition will likely be another former teammate of Casey's, long-time RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman.
"All of the players and coaches, everybody is looking forward to having a packed house," said Casey. "We need it. We need them behind us for this game, and for the rest of the season. We're all trying to pull ourselves out of the situation we're in so we need everybody in this building and in this city to help us out."
Young players contributing big minutes
The Colorado Rapids Homegrown players have a combined 1,402 minutes after the first ten games of the 2019 season. Sebastian Anderson, Cole Bassett, Dillon Serna and Sam Vines have all been given the opportunity to don the Burgundy and Blue in front of their hometown crowds and have each contributed valuable performances.
Just two weeks ago, 16-year-old Sebastian Anderson made his debut as the youngest player in club history on the same night that 25-year-old Dillon Serna made his 100th appearance for his hometown team against the defending MLS Cup champs. Earlier in April, 17-year-old Cole Bassett earned a spot on the MLS Team of the Week after opening his 2019 account and contributing an assist against Orlando City SC. 19-year-old defender Sam Vines has also started in four consecutive games at left back.
Real Salt Lake is also putting a heavy emphasis on their Homegrown players, ranking second in MLS with 21 Academy products signed to the first team since 2011. There are currently 12 Homegrown players on their roster which have contributed the most minutes (3,278) for an MLS team in 2019. Just last week RSL's head coach Mike Petke opt to play six Homegrown players against the Portland Timbers - four of which (Corey Baird, Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera and Donny Toia) were starters.
What to watch for...
Connor Cape, Radio Play-by-Play Announcer
Rocky Mountain Cup. Rocky. Mountain. Cup. One more time for good measure: Rocky Mountain Cup. Rivals Real Salt Lake come to Colorado for the opening leg of one of the best trophies in Major League Soccer. It's going to be interim head coach Conor Casey's first foray into the rivalry as the man in charge, it's going to be the final chapter in the tussle between legendary 'keepers Tim Howard and Nick Rimando, it's a massive opportunity for the Burgundy Boys to begin to turn things around.
The cross-mountain rivals will arrive with a two game losing streak in tow. Everybody knows how desperate they'll be to put a stop to that run. For the Rapids, it's about washing away the first 10 games of the season and focusing on a home game against their bitter rivals. Saturday at 7:00 PM can be the restart button the Rapids are looking for on their 2019 campaign. There are plenty of points left on the calendar and it starts with the three available against RSL.
Jordan Angeli, Radio Analyst
If there was anytime to get things back on track, it would be this weekend. The first game of the 2019 Rocky Mountain Cup is here at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park, and it's going to be a fun one. MLS veteran Kei Kamara spoke about the Rocky Mountain Cup in his postgame interview last Friday evening sharing that this rivalry game will be an easy boost of motivation for training this week.
This has been a hard couple months for the Rapids, and this rivalry match could create the perfect opportunity for them to get back on track and notch that first W. Real Salt Lake hasn't been great on the road in 2019, with only one win away from Rio Tinto and 14 goals against. The Rapids will want to take advantage of every opportunity come Saturday to put them in a prime position for the second leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup in late August.