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Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids | MLS Match Preview

REAL SALT LAKE vs COLORADO RAPIDS
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
May 17, 2014 (WEEK 11, MLS Game #99)
7:30 p.m. MT (KUCW-30; Altitude)
MLSsoccer.com FREE Stream of the Week

The first installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup is ahead on Saturday evening when Real Salt Lake play host to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL are still undefeated for the 2014 season, returning home off a 5-2 victory at the Houston Dynamo last weekend. The Rapids hit the road coming off a 3-1 home loss to Chivas USA last Sunday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

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REFEREE: Mark Geiger. AR1 (bench): Sean Hurd; AR2 (opposite): Joe Fletcher; 4th: Daniel Radford
MLS Career: 119 games; FC/gm: 26.6; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 30; pens: 41

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Alvaro Saborio, Chris Schuler
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando (USA); Alvaro Saborio (CRC)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (28 meetings): Real 9 wins, 29 goals - Rapids 10 wins, 27 goals - Ties 9
AT SALT LAKE (14 meetings): Real 7 wins, 17 goals - Rapids 3 wins, 9 goals - Ties 4
RETURN MATCHES: 8/2: Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. MT; 9/19: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids, 8 p.m. MT

LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/16: RSL 1, COL 1 (Saborio 80 - Brown 37)
4/6: COL 1, RSL 0 (Harris 5)
8/3: COL 2, RSL 2 (Brown 9; Castrillon 70 - Grabavoy 2; Saborio 21)

  • There were two draws in three meetings a year ago; the Rapids took the only win, a 1-0 victory April 6 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
  • 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 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, the RSL win also ended the Rapids' playoff hopes, though Real also did not qualify.
  • Coaches record: Pablo Mastroeni vs. RSL: first game - Jeff Cassar vs. COL: first game

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake extended their undefeated start to the campaign, strolling to a 5-2 win against a 10-man Houston Dynamo on Sunday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. RSL are in second place in the Western Conference with 20 points from 10 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Real were in the lead after just 15 seconds. With time and space some 25 yards out from goal, Javier Morales hit a deft chip to the back post that Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall could only watch.
  • It was 2-0 after just 17 minutes. After Ned Grabavoy hit a hopeful header off a corner from the top of the box, Morales cut across goal and redirected the effort into the goal for an early brace.
  • The Dynamo pulled a goal in the 22nd minute when Mark Sherrod pounded home a Brad Davis corner kick first-time from the top of the six-yard box
  • But things changed completely five minutes later when Servando Carrasco was shown a straight red for a harsh tackle on Morales. RSL restored their margin just 10 minutes later when Alvaro Saborio put a glancing header into the net off a Luke Mulholland cross.
  • The home side was given a glorious chance in the 36th minute when referee Allen Chapman pointed to the spot after David Horst was shoved down on a set piece. Giles Barnes stepped to the spot, Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando continued his penalty kick heroics, diving to his right to stop the attempt.
  • The Dynamo were able to reduce the margin again in the 56th minute when Sherrod finished under a lunging Rimando, converting a feed from Giles Barnes after he picked off a lazy pass.
  • But RSL put the game away when Mulholland scored in the 78th minute goal after he was sent directly through on goal, then the final scoreline came in the 88th minute when Morales converted a penalty kick.
  • RSL head coach Jeff Cassar made one change to the team that took a 3-2 win against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Aaron Maund came into central defense in place of Chris Schuler.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Aaron Maund, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Abdoulie Mansally 46) - Luke Mulholland, Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy - Javier Morales - Joao Plata (Cole Grossman 74), Alvaro Saborio (Devon Sandoval 60).

TEAM NEWS

  • Real extended their season-opening undefeated streak to 10 games, the only unbeaten team remaining in Major League Soccer. The league record for games without defeat to start the season was set by the Los Angeles Galaxy in their first 12 games in club and league history, in 1996 (12-0-0).
  • The Morales goal after just 15 seconds was the fourth-fastest goal in MLS history, and sent him on the way to the first hat trick in his MLS career. Four RSL players have scored hat tricks in the club's history (Alvaro Saborio, 3; Robbie Findley and Jason Kreis, 1 each).
  • "That's our guy," said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman. "That's who Javi is. It was a great game for him, and one that's exciting for the fans of Real Salt Lake, because he can do special things."
  • Said goalkeeper Nick Rimando: "That was the fastest goal I've ever seen. It doesn't surprise me with the way Javier [Morales] sees the ball. The way Sabo trapped the ball, and the movement in the first half. He does that in practice a lot where he'll act like he's going to hit it hard, and then do that. Never on me though."
  • It was the first RSL victory in Houston in the club's history, having gone 0-8-1 previously in league play. Real scored five goals in a league game for the first time since a 5-0 win over New England on July 2, 2010.
  • "This was our first game in the heat and I thought we dealt with it really well. There's some things that we can work on still but it's good to get that little monkey off our back and getting three points is most important," said RSL head coach Jeff Cassar.
  • Rimando saved his second penalty kick this season, also stopping Robbie Keane's effort late in the season-opening 1-0 win vs. the LA Galaxy. The last four penalty kicks Rimando has faced in league play have not been successful, dating back to last April 20.
  • For his career, Rimando has faced 62 penalty kicks total, and has seen 21 of those missed. Of the 21 failed attempts, Rimando has saved 16.
  • "That was massive," Cassar said. "Massive. And that's what Nicky does for us. Just when things could maybe turn for the worse, Nicky makes one of those big saves."
  • It was the final game for three RSL players - Saborio, Rimando and Beckerman - before they join their respective national teams ahead of the FIFA World Cup.
  • "We are deep, we have a deep team, and we have a couple guys who have been waiting for the opportunity to play. It is going to be tough, because we are losing the captain, our top scorer, and our goalkeeper," said Morales. "We have to deal with that, and they're going to the World Cup. We wish the best to them, but now we have to focus on us, and try to keep winning games."

COLORADO RAPIDS
The Colorado Rapids saw their shutout run come to an end, Chivas USA exploding for three second-half goals for a 3-1 win Sunday afternoon at at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are in fifth place in the Western Conference with 15 points from 10 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Chivas USA opened the scoring on their first chance of the match in the 56th minute. A cross from midfielder Martin Rivero - making his first start for Chivas after his midweek acquisition from Colorado - found a wide open Erick Torres for an easy header into goal.
  • Eleven minutes later, the lead was doubled when Chavez sprinted down the heart of the field, taking advantage of a gaffe in the Colorado back line to race 70 yards and chip over Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin from the top of the box.
  • Then nine minutes later it was 3-0, after defender Marc Burch misplayed a back pass to Irwin and Chavez was quickest to it to fire home for his second goal of the game.
  • The Rapids pulled a goal back in stoppage time when Deshorn Brown curled home a shot from the left side of the box from a loose ball, but it was far too little, too late.
  • Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni made eight changes to the team that playing to a goalless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Only goalkeeper Clint Irwin, fullback Thomas Piermayr and central defender Shane O'Neill kept their places in the side.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Clint Irwin - Thomas Piermayr (Christopher Klute 64), Marvell Wynne, Shane O'Neill, Marc Burch - Marlon Hairston (Charles Eloundou 59), Jose Mari, Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Serna - Danny Mwanga (Dillon Powers 74), Deshorn Brown

TEAM NEWS

  • The Rapids conceded three goals or more for a third time in 10 games this season. They have recorded five shutouts - tied for most in Major League Soccer.
  • "I think we got lulled to sleep. I think there were some interesting decisions made on our defensive half that gave them a chance to get into the game," said Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni. "The disappointing thing is that we've given up goals but the response is then to throw all caution to the wind and bomb forward. I think [we need to] just be more professional, and that starts with me as to how we now concede a goal and move forward."
  • Said defender Shane O'Neill: "It just wasn't good enough from us in the second half. I think it was the crossing; we needed a little bit more communication between all of us at the back post. ... I'm not sure we want to take away anything from this game. It's just one of those days that you want to forget about."
  • With a third game in nine days, it was again all-change in the Rapids starting lineup, as Mastroeni made eight changes to his team for a second consecutive match.
  • The lineups were really different all game. I think it was just the mentality," said O'Neill. "We came out really well, maybe the second half we came out and we thought you know that we dominated this game in the first half and all we have to do is show up and we'll make something happen. Obviously that wasn't the case."
  • Said center back Marvell Wynne: "It comes [down] to a mindset, and there were just some breakdowns. And they just took advantage."
  • Deshorn Brown returned to the starting lineup after not featuring in a match for the first time this season at San Jose, and scored his second goal of the season, his first since March 22 when he netted vs. Portland.
  • "It's a good feeling to get it, but I guess I got it in the wrong way. We were hoping to get these three points and looking forward to the big game against Salt Lake," Brown said. "So I guess we've got to put this one behind us and focus on the rivals [coming up]."
  • Danny Mwanga made his first start of the season after undergoing offseason surgery, partnering Brown in attack.