Real Salt Lake - 0 at Colorado Rapids -1 - Final - Match Thread

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Yeah I figure why not do a live match thread, so if you aren't in Colorado at the match, follow along with my match updates, add your thoughts via comments as RSL take on the Rapids.

The RSL starting line up has a couple of changes from the Tuesday lineup, we knew Jamison Olave would be out, but both Will Johnson and Fabian Espindola both also get a bit of a rest as the RSL staring XI are:

Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Jonny Steele, Alvaro Saborio and Justin Braun.

I am a bit surprised with Steele's selection as I would think if Will was hurt or just resting that we might see Luis Gil who is well rested and I think provides a bit more creativity. I kinda thought after the hard work that Fabian Espindola has put in over the last couple of weeks that he might get a rest (I expect to see him later in the match) and with the Rapids lineup it could be interesting to see how Justin does against their defenders. Let me know what you think of the starting lineup.

This should be a heck of a match as the RSL fans at the Rapids match are already making their presence felt as the team warms up and kick off is just 15 minutes away so check back soon.

0-15 minutes

Well I have to say that the stadium sure looks empty based on the view over the shoulders of Brian Dunseth and Bill Riley in the TV booth, in fact the only section that looks really full just minutes before the match are the sections that the RSL fans are in, loud and proud with the RMC securely in our grasps for another year. I do hope that some RSL fans brought a long brooms, because I have a feeling that a sweep is in order at Dick's tonight. Wow RSL is reporting over 400 fans of the Cobalt and Claret made the trip to Colorado for this match, that is a nice number considering that the Cup is already settled.

The starting lineup for the Rapids is:

Matt Pickens, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Luis Zapata, Jeff Larentowicz, Joseph Nane, Brian Mullan, Martin Rivero, Jaime Castrillon, and Omar Cummings

Well Justin Braun's first touch for RSL goes out for a goal kick, thing can only get better. Both teams are working for some possession in the midfield, and Nane took the first real shot of the night but it goes wide and out for a RSL goal kick.

On the restart Saborio is whistled for a foul so the ball goes back over to the Rapids, and RSL got the ball back quickly and a good ball into the area but Braun was unable to get to it and now the Rapids are back on offense and a ball driven into the RSL area but Nick grabs it and quickly RSL is back in possession and slowing things down a bit.

The Rapids get the ball back on a bad pass from RSL, but they can't get anything going as the ball rolls out for a RSL goal kick and this time Braun is whistled for a foul on the kick, but the Rapids quickly play the ball out of bounds and RSL get it back but a lot of pressure being applied by the Rapids in the RSL end of the bit as RSL tries to clear it but end up kicking it out of bounds, so the Rapids are back on the attack.

Good pressure by RSL force the Rapids to turn the ball over for a throw in and after a couple of passes RSL are finally in the Rapids half of the pitch, but this Rapids team is doing a good job of pressuring the ball and they look unlikely to give up their 7th goal of the season in the first 15 minutes of matches. Another shot by Nane and it just goes off the crossbar, not sure how he was left that open at the top of the area, RSL is not responding well to the pressure the Rapids are putting on. I expected a tough match as the Rapids are simply desperate to end their 6 match losing streak.

Braun works hard in the area with the ball, taking on two guys and he is just unable to get a shot off but it goes out for a corner kick, but the Rapids are able to clear it and a foul called against RSL in the area so a free kick for the Rapids as we hit the 15 minute mark 0-0.

15-30 minutes:

Well Braun has been playing tough, and working hard in the area and he creates a couple of chances and forces a save by Pickens, and both Javier and Saborio are taken down. I have no idea how that isn't a call for a PK as Sabo was taken down in the area. RSL is looking a lot more dangerous the last few minutes as I think the desperation of the Rapids could force them into making some mistakes and they clearly aren't sure how to deal with Braun's size and strength in the area.

The Rapids are back in possession, and quickly down into the RSL end of the pitch as they look to gain some momentum back, and a foul called against Steele but the Rapids can't do anything with the free kick but keep possession until Wynne kicks it out of play for a RSL goal kick. Javi gets run over and the whistle blows, a free kick for RSL about 10 yards outside of the area, Braun makes a good run but Perkins punches it out of bounds and RSL keep possession in the Rapids final third. Finally it goes out for a goal kick, Justin is causing some real issues for the Rapids defense, and you have to think the hard work they are being forced to do now, could really come to light later in the match if Fabi gets on and makes some quick runs at them.

RSL get a corner kick and it is a bit long and goes over the heads of both Rapids and RSL players and out for a Rapids throw in. RSL is doing a nice job of keeping possession, at the 25th minute they have had 54.4% of possession and another foul give RSL a free kick but Borchers heads it over the goal and the offside flag was also up, but the pressure of RSL is causing issues for the Rapids, who quickly head back down the pitch and fire a long ball into the area but Nick pulls it down and RSL is back in possession.

The Rapids earn a corner kick and Nick punches it out but the Rapids keep possession, now a throw in for the Rapids, a long throw but RSL clear but turn it back over in the midfield, and RSL quickly get it back now and the offside flag goes up as Braun is off by a couple of feet.

We are 0-0 as the clock moves to the 30th minutes and both sides have had their chances, but possession still favors RSL a bit.

30 minutes - halftime:

The Rapids again are pushing high in the RSL half of the pitch but neither side seems able to keep possession for the last couple minutes as both sides are pressuring the ball all over the pitch. RSL tries to play a long ball but it goes out for a Rapids throw in. Things have slowed down a bit as both sides are really fighting hard in the midfield and that is not creating a lot of open chances for either side.

I would say that the Rapids have stepped it up the last 5-10 minutes by applying more pressure and RSL tries to play a long ball but Wynne is too quick and gets there first and the Rapids are back on the attack. Nane fires another shot, and he bounces it off the crossbar but this time it goes in off the bounce, and I am left confused why Nane is standing at the top of the 18 with no RSL player near him? That is the third time and he made RSL pay for not covering him. Now RSL will need to try to come from behind, RSL is just 2-6-1 when giving up the first goal, while the Rapids are 6-4-0 when scoring first, so RSL should be able to come back but they are going to need to be a bit tighter on the Rapids players when the ball is in our final third.

Another effort on goal but Rimando gets there and with less than 5 minutes left in the half it is 1-0 for the Rapids. I would expect RSL to do better after giving up the goal but it is the Rapids who seem to have a bit more juice in their step and now they have a corner kick, it bounces around and Steele takes off with the ball, and he tries to find Sabo who is on a good run but his cross is kicked out by Wynne, but RSL finally have a bit of possession in the Rapids half of the pitch but a long cross and it goes out for a Rapids throw in.

I think the goal has helped the confidence of the Rapids, but RSL is doing their best to deal with the pressure, but so far they haven't been able to create any chances to answer back since the Rapids goal, and that is it the whistle blows for halftime and RSL trail 1-0.

45-60 minutes:

Well I have to wonder if RSL will make any changes coming out of the half? I think it might not be bad to get Gil into the match for Grabavoy who looks still less than 100%, and then maybe Fabi for Braun or Sabo at 60 minutes. RSL have to find a way to get back to their possession and passing style, they seem to be holding the ball just a bit longer than normal and that is allowing the Rapids to apply a lot of pressure. I think RSL is more than capable of getting back into this match quickly in the second half, and even winning but they need to find a way to deal with the pressure the Rapids are applying. RSL went from 54.4 % of the possession in the first 25 minutes to ending the half with just 46.2% and just 168 passes, the Rapids have 20 passes more than RSL at the half.

Wow it looks like Fabi is coming in to start the second half, and Sabo is coming off. I think with the match on Tuesday the split duty for those two will let both of them be fully ready for next weekends match at Vancouver. So now can Fabi's speed open up the match for RSL? Good pressure early from RSL to start the second half and how in the heck did that foul on Javi not get called?

It looks as if Marshall is going to have to come off for the Rapids just minutes after the second half gets started, he is limping and not moving well. It looks as if Wells Thompson will be coming in for him, so the Rapids will need to adjust their formation a bit, and maybe that is something RSL can take advantage of. RSL get a free kick deep in the Rapids end of the pitch, but it falls into the mixer but RSL at least keep possession of the ball. A deep throw in for RSL, but they end up playing it all the way back to Rimando as RSL looks to reset and then start moving forward in numbers, but the Rapids are still applying great pressure and they force a turnover deep in the RSL end of the pitch and Castrillon's shot goes just wide.

I am sorry I love Jonny Steele off the bench for bite and energy, but when he starts it really leaves something to be desired for me in terms of possession, passing and positioning. RSL get the ball back in their own end but another turn over in the midfield. I am sorry I say pull Steele for Johnson and Grabavoy for Gil and the sooner the better, if RSL are going to want to get back into this match. If not we might just see the Rapids go up another goal, as RSL simply seem to lack the ability to keep possession of the ball.

RSL dodges a bit of a bullet on two good defensive plays by Wingert and Steele but the reality is that giving the Rapids that much possession in your final third isn't a good thing. The score is still 1-0 but I have to say that the Rapids have been the better team at this point, and another offside calla against RSL. Javi is showing signs of life but it seems to be of little impact as nobody else seems to be on the same page with him.

I am so confused, bringing on Emiliano and Johnson, that would be great if we could get any possession in the midfield but we haven't and I would love to see Gil get into the match, to provide a spark. The question is who will be coming off for RSL? It is Steele out and Will Johnson in, and Justin Braun out for Emiliano Bonfigli. That is a lot of speed with Fabi and Emiliano, but without possession will it matter? Fabi makes a good run but the Rapids are there.

60-75 minutes:

Well the fresh legs seem to have sparked some life in RSL, a couple of good efforts by Javier, but unable to get anything from it and the Rapids are back in possession of the ball, but RSL take it back at the midfield line and now are able to build some possession as the passing seems a bit sharper.

RSL dodge another bullet, and are looking a bit more dangerous but are also giving up some chances, thank goodness Nick's goal post is on our side as it helps keep the ball out of the goal. The match has clearly opened up with the changes that RSL made but that can both be a good and a dangerous thing for RSL. A good ball by Will Johnson to Fabi but much like the last time these teams fought, it was Marvell Wynne who was there to break it up.

It looks like the Rapids will have to make a change as Nane limps off the pitch and Jamie Smith will be coming on for the Rapids. Omar Cummings is battling hard tonight, doing a lot of good work for the Rapids. So as we hit the 75th minute of the match the score is still 1-0 in favor of the Rapids.

75 - final:

The reality is that RSL has just 3 shots taken and only one on goal and that simply isn't good enough, and while I expected a very tough defensive effort from the Rapids tonight, I have been fairly disappointed with RSL's work in the midfield where the Rapids have been quicker and sharper for most of the match. What a save by Nick Rimando, and RSL keep their hopes alive but the Rapids are right back on the attack.

This is a match that normally the RSL players get really fired up for, but with the RMC over it seems as if a few guys simply aren't playing their normal style and while some of that is clearly the result of the hard work that the Rapids are doing on both sides of the ball but you haven't heard Kyle Beckerman or Ned Grabavoy's names mentioned much at all tonight. I think the Rapids have really dominated the midfield battle tonight and it will likely take a big effort by either Fabi or Emiliano to get RSL even in this one. RSL has scored 10 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, so nothing is impossible.

The Rapids make their final change bringing in Kamani Hill for Martin Rivero, Fabi takes a shot but it goes just wide and the Rapids have a goal kick. RSL get a throw in but it goes back over to the Rapids and the Rapids get another free kick. RSL back on the attack but it quickly goes back to the Rapids, and we are the point where desperation kicks in and RSL start trying to play long balls over the top (which rarely works for us).

Is this the result of a couple 12 hour flights earlier in the week and a tough match in Costa Rica, the result of a Rapids team that has thrown everything they have into breaking their losing steak, a lackluster effort from RSL who already had the RMC locked up for the season, or some combination of all of those?

I have to say that Javier has been good but the Rapids have applied so much pressure on him that it has been hard to get much going and nobody has really stepped up to help him out on the creative side of things. RSL has numbers up top, the long throw in by Wingert was good but cleared out of the area, but RSL keeps possession, the Rapids counter but some solid defending by Kwame keeps Cummings from even getting a shot off and the clock is nearing 90, can RSL find a way to equalize?

Another throw in by RSL, another long one into the area by Wingert, but a foul in the area gives the ball to the Rapids as we enter the 4 minutes of stoppage time.

RSL back on the attack but the ball is a bit long and out for a goal kick and we can be sure the Rapids will milk every second they can from the clock as they look to protect their lead and end their losing streak.

A good run by Fabi, earns a corner kick as the clock ticks down, but it is cleared out to Javi and RSL have to reset, a ball into the area but it is cleared by Wynne, another ball into the area and this one goes out off Fabi's head.

The final whistle blows and the Rapids win 1-0, the Rapids were clearly the better team tonight but it was failure to capitalize on early chances to get shots on target and failure to mark an open player multiple times at the top of their area. RSL had a chance to take over the top spot in the West but fail to capitalize on it, and allow the Rapids to regain some hope by moving to just 8 points shy of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Next up will be another tough road match as RSL heads to Vancouver next Saturday.

OFF MY SOAPBOX

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