Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Friday, August 26 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)
Match Odds: RSL 5/6 – Draw 11/5 – Colorado 10/3
Real Salt Lake host the Colorado Rapids in the latest Rocky Mountain Cup battle on Friday night, with both sides chasing Western Conference leaders FC Dallas as the regular season edges closer to completion.
RSL have been very inconsistent for a number of months, but they are unbeaten at home this term and that is keeping them at the right end of the standings as things stand.
Real Salt Lake have won just three of their last 11 MLS outings but are just five points off Supporters’ Shield leaders Dallas with eight games to play.
A win over their rivals on Friday would see them move ahead of the Rapids and into second place in the West, so this is a massive clash for both sides.
Colorado have surprised everyone with their performances this season. They have looked solid throughout, conceding the fewest goals of every side and losing just three times all campaign.
They should make the playoffs without too much difficulty, but need to ensure they start winning games more regularly if they are to be a force through the postseason.
A run of just one win in their last five has left the Rapids still chasing top spot Dallas, although they do have two games in hand and only need to make up two points on the leaders. A victory here would be a major boost with the playoffs fast approaching.
This will be the 37th MLS regular season meeting between these Western Conference rivals. Real Salt Lake hold a narrow advantage based on previous meetings, winning 14 and losing 12 against the Rapids, with 10 matches ending in a draw.
Jeff Cassar has four injury worries ahead of Friday’s game. Emery Welshman, Sunday Stephen and Aaron Maund are all out, while Jordan Allen is a doubt and is unlikely to feature. Right-back Tony Beltran is suspended as a result of yellow card accumulation and won’t be available.
Colorado’s Dillon Serna remains out for the season, while Sebastien Le Toux, Sean St. Ledger and Jermaine Jones are all doubtful and are therefore unlikely to return to the team on Friday.
Real Salt Lake’s last five: W/L/W/L/W
Colorado Rapids’ last five: D/L/W/D/D
Key Stat: Colorado have not won away at Real Salt Lake since 2007, losing nine of the 13 games at Rio Tinto since.
Key Player: Nick Rimando – The RSL goalkeeper keeps coming up big for his side and kept a clean sheet in last weekend’s crucial battle against FC Dallas. Another clean sheet here would put RSL in a really strong position and he will be looking to shutout the Rapids for the second time this season on Friday.Embed from Getty Images
Real Salt Lake 1-1 Colorado Rapids – This is set to be a close-fought battle between two sides that will be desperate to avoid defeat in such an important contest. RSL should keep their unbeaten home record intact but the Rapids are a tough outfit to break down. Score draw.