The Colorado Rapids will be making some changes to their starting XI for Wednesday night’s matchup with Real Salt Lake (9 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live). Some of those are due to injuries, some will be tactical choices.
Unfortunately for the MLS Cup champions, Pablo Mastroeni will once again be unavailable. The captain had to pull out from the FC Dallas game last Friday because of a calf problem and he remains sidelined. The Rapids were well beaten in a 3-0 defeat by Dallas.
For the Dallas game, Gary Smith brought in the much less experienced Joseph Nane to replace the captain. The same may not happen again Wednesday night, as Smith wants as much experience as possible in front of a hostile Rocky Mountain rival crowd.
That means, also, a possible start for wide midfielder and regular starter Brian Mullan, who was replaced in the first XI for the Dallas game by Sanna Nyassi.
“There will be one or two different bodies in there for Wednesday,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “My thoughts are always about the right personnel.”
[inline_node:333386]Jamie Smith, who has been a key player for the Rapids in the opening four games, could see a start in a more central role, taking up the Mastroeni position alongside Jeff Larentowicz.
“Jamie can play in any number of midfield positions,” Gary Smith said. “He may not be as aggressive as some but he reads the game very well and he has a lot of energy.”
If Smith does start there, that would free up Mullan either Nyassi and Wells Thompson to play out wide. Nyassi struggled in the opening 45 minutes against FCD and was replaced by Mullan for the second half.
Defensively, the Rapids will be glad that Anthony Wallace is available. The left back had to be substituted against Dallas because of a calf injury. His return means the back four will, no doubt, line up as expected.
Conor Casey’s hamstring continues to keep him out of the fray, so it will be Omar Cummings and Caleb Folan to start up top.
The mood in camp is good, Gary Smith said. The players are eager to put the Dallas game behind them and focus on their Rocky Mountain rivals
“Honestly, the attitude is one of thinking that Friday night was not very nice,” he said. “We were beaten fair and square in that game and we all know we need to get back on track. There is no better occasion to do that than playing against Salt Lake and we will all need to be in the right mental place for that one. It’s going to be a tough encounter and we will be ready for it.”