If you think the recent form of Real Salt Lake is troublesome, imagine what it is like to be a Rapids fan for a moment. First you front office bans a loyal supporter for life, then factor in that your team has just one win since the end of May, that 4 times this year your team has scored the first goal in a match only to go on to lose the match, oh and your star player of the last decade has been out almost all year with concussion symptoms. I can say as bad as the last month has been for RSL fans, the whole year has been chaos for the Colorado Rapids, who have gone from winning the 2010 MLS Cup to barely making the playoffs last year and now would find themselves out of the playoffs all together if the season ended today.
Still when you match up two teams that are 1-3-1 and 1-4-0 in their last 5 matches, there has to be a sense of desperation in both locker rooms. That only gets worse when you know that both teams will be missing their on field leaders, There has been no Pablo for months and as a result of a yellow card on Wednesday night at Toronto there will be no Jeff Larentowicz for the Rapids. RSL will be without Kyle Beckerman who is suspended for the red card he picked up in the San Jose match last weekend. Both sides are dealing with other injuries as well but those are the guys that everyone looks to in big matches to provide that extra motivation, to lift his team up when they need it late in matches. Both sides will be looking for someone else to step up and fill the very large boots of these guys.
more thoughts after the jump:
Some strange trends will be at odds in this match, RSL has already lost as many matches at home as they have in any of the previous 3 seasons at Rio Tinto and one more home loss would equal the total of all 3 of those years combined. The Rapids have the distinction of losing 4 matches after scoring the first goal, a rarity in MLS where the team scoring first wins 80-90% of the time, for the Rapids scoring first results in just 60% wins, in comparison for RSL that number is 90% (9-1-0).
The Rapids also are fighting an awful road record this year, 2-8-0 with 8 goals scored and 17 goals allowed for a -9, while RSL is +8 at home with 19 goals scored and just 11 allowed. The question is do we get the RSL that posted back to back shutouts at home, or the team that gave up 5 goals in the two home matches before that?
While I don't think RSL who sit in second place in the Western Conference are in panic mode, I do think that given the recent results that many are desperate to get some consistency before the team heads into Champions League action in a couple weeks. The Rapids however find themselves in 6th place and 5 points out of the final playoff spot, and with the season now over half way over it is time for them to start posting results or they could miss out on the post season.
I also think a lot of players on both sides are a bit desperate to get back to their top form, no player likes to not be at their best and with a number of guys coming back from injuries and trying to regain their top form, we could see a number of guys really stepping up their games in what is one of the most heated rivalries in the league.
So who do you think needs to impress on Saturday?
OFF MY SOAPBOX