MLS Match Preview: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids
REAL SALT LAKE vs COLORADO RAPIDS
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
March 16, 2013 (WEEK 3, MLS Game #23)
4 p.m. MT (KTVA-ABC; Altitude)
MLS Rivalry Week heats up on Saturday afternoon with the latest installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup, as Real Salt Lake play host to the Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real are coming off their first loss of 2013 from two road matches, dropping a 1-0 decision at D.C. United last weekend. The Rapids are still looking for their first points from the new season, Philadelphia Union recording a 2-1 win last weekend in the Colorado home opener delayed a day because of a snowstorm.
REFEREE: David Gantar. SAR (bench): Kevin Duliba; JAR (opposite): Baboucarr Jallow; 4th: Tyler Ploeger
MLS Career: 15 games; FC/gm: 26.2; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 8; pens: 1
DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: RSL: Abdoulie Mansally (through March 17)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (25 meetings): Real 9 wins, 26 goals … Rapids 9 wins, 23 goals … Ties 7
AT SALT LAKE (13 meetings): Real 7 wins, 16 goals … Rapids 3 wins, 8 goals … Ties 3 RETURN MATCHES: 4/6: Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake, 5:30 p.m. MT (NBCSN); 8/3: Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. MT
LAST YEAR (MLS): 4/7: RSL 2, COL 0 (Saborio 20; Espindola 57) 7/21: RSL 2, COL 0 (Saborio 32; Johnson 90) 8/4: COL 1, RSL 0 (Nane 38)
- The home team has not lost in the Rocky Mountain Cup series since 2007, when RSL knocked off Colorado 1-0 in Commerce City to close out their playoff hopes.
- The home team won every meeting last year, Real Salt Lake winning by a 2-0 scoreline in both meetings at Rio Tinto Stadium, and Colorado winning 1-0 in the lone match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
- The rivals play for the Rocky Mountain Cup, a trophy awarded by the supporters groups of both teams. The rivalry has lived up to its billing in past seasons, as last-day results sent RSL into the MLS Cup Playoffs ahead of their Rocky Mountain rivals in 2008 (a last-minute RSL goal for a 1-1 tie) and 2009 (a 3-0 Real win). In 2007, an RSL win also ended the Rapids’ playoff hopes, though Real also did not qualify.
- Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. COL: P16 W7 L3 D6 … Oscar Pareja vs. RSL: P3 W1 L2 D0
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake weren’t able to make it 2-for-2 on the road to open the season, falling 1-0 to D.C. United on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium.
- The game's only goal came on the hour. United’s Chris Pontius sent a corner kick into the box that midfielder John Thorrington settled just outside the area before sending a cheeky chip on goal that forced RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to make a leaping, sprawling stop. The rebound bounced right to Lionard Pajoy, who stooped to head it into the open net.
- RSL head coach Jason Kreis kept the same team that came away with a 2-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes to open the season.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Abdoulie Mansally (Lovel Palmer 66) - Sebastian Velasquez, Kyle Beckerman, Khari Stephenson (John Stertzer 81) - Luis Gil - Robbie Findley (Joao Plata 65), Alvaro Saborio.
WATCH: Real Salt Lake defeated by DC United
- Real were held without a goal for the third time in their last four matches away from Rio Tinto Stadium dating back to the end of last season and the MLS Cup Playoffs.
- “I think the guys’ mentality was terrific in both matches and I think they were ready for the fight that was presented to them. I think in both matches we went through some difficult patches and we handled them well,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. “We responded well to both of the adverse situations, so I’m very pleased. If you would have offered me three points before the season started, I would have taken it every single day.”
- Real also allowed a goal for the first time this season, their one goal allowed tied for fewest among the teams which have played more than one game (Houston, New England and LA all have yet to concede, all having played one league match).
- “I think that as a coach, when you go into a season you want to see how your team will react the very first time they go down a goal. Tonight was the first time we did that and I really, really liked our response,” Kreis said. “I liked the decisions by our outside backs to get forward early and often, and players making aggressive decisions with the ball to try to combine and make chances. Everything was very good from that moment forward.”
- Real were shut out for the first time this season after opening the year with a 2-0 win at San Jose, where both goals came from Alvaro Saborío. • “There is no doubt [we need other players to score],” head coach Jason Kreis said. “Last week [Saborío] scored both the goals for us and over the past couple of years he has really shouldered a lot of the burden of doing the scoring for us. We are going to need other players to step up and perform and be dangerous as well. That comes down to players like [Robbie] Findley, [Joao] Plata, [Olmes] García, Luis Gil, Sebastian Velasquez. These players are going to have to be a little bit more influential in the exacting end of the field.”
- Robbie Findley partnered Saborío in attack for a second consecutive match, once again putting in a shift of 65 minutes before being taken off.
- “[We’re] only a couple of games in and for everybody to be on the same page, will take a little bit of time. But we’re trying to do it as fast as we can, and really get things flowing. We’ll get opportunities. We’re not really worried. We’ll go from there.”
- Luis Gil filled the attacking midfield role for a second consecutive match with Javier Morales out, after returning to the club from qualification for the U-20 World Cup.
- “I think Luis puts the bounce in Luis’ step. I don’t know that he really needed to play in the U-20 qualification in order to improve – I’ve seen the kid improve week-by-week and month-by-month,” said Kreis. “I’m not surprised that he’s taking another step forward.”
- While injured players Javier Morales and Nat Borchers returned to full training during the week, Kreis said neither is assured of being available for selection for the Colorado match.
- "They're coming along," Kreis said. "Both of them went through full training sessions today. … Both are coming along. I think Nat is probably a little bit ahead of Javier right now."
The Colorado Rapids went down to a second defeat on the trot to start the campaign, falling 2-1 to Philadelphia Union on Sunday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in a game delayed a day due to a blizzard.
- Union drew first blood in the 34th minute. Sébastien Le Toux’s corner kick found an unmarked Amobi Okugo in the box, and he easily headed home at the back post.
- The home side pulled even in the 68th minute. Jamie Smith took Deshorn Brown’s pass just outside the box on the right and curled a beautiful strike around and over goalkeeper Zac MacMath’s outstretched hands and into the far corner of the net.
- But 11 minutes later, Union caught the Rapids on the counterattack. Jack McInerney took a beautiful through ball from Antoine Hoppenot on the right and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Pickens and a sliding Drew Moor inside the far post for the decisive strike.
- Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made one change to the team that fell 1-0 to FC Dallas in Frisco to start the season. Matt Pickens returned between the posts, coming into the side in place of Steward Ceus. • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-1-2-3): Matt Pickens - Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Diego Calderon, Brian Mullan - Hendry Thomas, Pablo Mastroeni (Nick LaBrocca 8) - Dillon Powers (Jamie Smith 46) - Atiba Harris (Tony Cascio 71), Deshorn Brown, Kevin Harbottle.
WATCH: Colorado Rapids lose at home to Philadelphia Union
- The Rapids joined the Chicago Fire as the only team to start the season winless from their opening two matches.
- “It’s something that kind of stings for a long period because it’s a place that you can control. We all have to be accountable for that part and coaches and players as well. It’s unacceptable for me,” said Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja. “Set pieces are something that you can control and I don’t want to get back to the same story with giving points away just because we’re distracted or not doing our job. And at the end we have to be accountable for that.”
- Pablo Mastroeni started for a second consecutive match after missing nearly the entirety of the 2012 season – but lasted just eight minutes before he was forced off with a hamstring injury.
- “That was sad to see him come out of the game because he wanted so bad to play after a good game in Dallas, he played very well – all 90 minutes. And he had a good week as well,” said Pareja. “I know it was painful for Pablo just to have to leave the field. But his hamstring was tight enough that he had to get out.”
- Said Mastroeni: “I felt great in warm-ups, felt great all week leading into it. It was just one of those freak things that you have no control of. I just turned towards our goal and sprinted, pushed off my left leg and just felt it. I don’t think in my career I’ve dealt with a hamstring problem.”
- Nick LaBrocca, obtained over the offseason from Chivas USA, was inserted into Mastroeni’s spot in central midfield.
- “Nick is more of an attacking-minded guy but I wanted to have his feet in that position replacing Pablo so he can give us some soccer from that part of the field. It changed a little because at some point you start giving up something in order to get other stuff,” said Pareja. “But we got what we wanted from Nick, and he started connecting people in the middle.”
- Jamie Smith did not figure in the season-opening loss at FC Dallas and came on as a halftime substitute for Dillon Powers, but finally opened the Rapids account for 2013 with the equalizing goal.
- “Jamie came on lively, he came on and sparked the team. I thought he gave us good feet in the middle. His purpose was to try to get control in that half, and I think Jamie gave us that. And actually a good finish there and creating some moments on the right side,” said Pareja.
- A year ago, the Rapids were 1-14-2 when allowing the first goal – the second-worst record in MLS (after Philadelphia’s 1-15-2 mark). They’ve allowed the first goal in both games this season.
- “When you give up a goal and then the color of the game changes because you have to start moving people and start pushing here and there, it took us a while to get that rhythm going,” said Pareja. “I was happy with the possession yes, we can move the ball quicker yes. But definitely one of the Achilles that we have and we’ve all accepted as a group is that we have to be more punishing at the end and the final product has to be there because that’s what gives you the points.”