COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It’s fair to say that Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids have a bit of a feud. In the last few years, however, it’s been the boys from Utah coming out of on top, and usually in dramatic fashion.
On April 13, a controversial Fabián Espíndola goal in stoppage time gave RSL a 1-0 victory. In 2010, two late goals by the Claret-and-Cobalt erased a 2-0 advantage for Colorado at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to earn the visitors the Rocky Mountain Cup on enemy turf.
“Whether it’s been a decision, a mistake or general circumstances, somehow we have contrived to concede goals late on,” Rapids head coach Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “It always seems to fall their way and all the guys have that fact right in their heads now.”
With the sting of so many late goals conceded to their bitter rivals, the Rapids have been focusing this week on closing out games ahead of Friday night's Rocky Mountain Cup finale at DSG Park (10:30 pm ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“We played really well in [last year’s 2-2 draw],” Smith said on Thursday. “If we play similarly tomorrow night, I am confident we can pull out the win.”
And the coach has almost a full squad to call upon to earn that win. Apart from long-term injuries to Conor Casey and Anthony Wallace, Miguel Comminges is suspended after a red card in the Rapids’ last game against FC Dallas. Caleb Folan is listed as questionable with an ankle issue and Smith described midfielder Jamie Smith as a “game-time decision” because of ongoing problems with his calf muscle.
Drew Moor has typically been shifted across to left back when needed and will likely do so tonight, allowing Marvell Wynne and Tyrone Marshall to play at center back.
If Smith is not available, Gary Smith may be tempted to play an attacking midfield formation that could include Macoumba Kandji out wide.
Kandji said earlier this week he is eager to play an impact role in such a big game.
“Practice has been very good, everyone’s been very sharp,” Kandji told MLSsoccer.com. “Everybody is up for this and this is the best time to come together with the playoffs just round the corner.”