Here are the lineups for tonight's match-up between Real Salt Lake (3-0-0, 9pts) and Colorado (3-1-0, 9pts):
Starters: Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran, Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman (Capt), Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy, Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola, Nick Rimandio-GK
Bench: Robbie RussellJean Alexandre, Arturo Alvarez, Paulo Araujo, Jr., Chris Schuler, Collen Warner, Kyle Reynish-GK
Coach: Jason Kreis
Starters: Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Brian Mullan, Jamie Smith, Jeff Larentowicz (Capt), Wells Thompson, Omar Cummings, Caleb Folan, Matt Pickens -GK
Bench: Joseph Nane, Andre Akpan, Quincy Amarikwa, Sanna Nyassi, Scott Palguta, Anthony Wallace, Steward Ceus-GK
Coach: Gary Smith
The first installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup is on offer as two of the teams with the brightest starts this season meet when Real Salt Lake play host to the Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real are the only team still with a perfect record after last week's win at New England. The Rapids won their first three games on the trot as well, before falling at FC Dallas last Friday in a rematch of MLS Cup 2010.
Real Salt Lake is the only team remaining in MLS with an unblemished record, returning to league play with a 2-0 victory against the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. RSL is tied at the top of the Western Conference with Colorado with 9 points from 3 matches.
The starting lineup out here for RSL tonight looks pretty much like what we placed out there against Saprissa last week. Will Johnson is not playing tonight due to the Red Card he received in the Revs match.
Let's get onto the match!
At '15 mark...
RSL is doing a pretty good job tonight controlling the middle of the field. Sabo has had to break aways with the ball but both were called back for being offsides. We get our first corner of the night and Javi kicks it in only to have a Rapid defender head it out at '5 mark. There seems to be a lot of empty seats tonight. I know it is the middle of the week and it is hard for people to get out, especially at a 7:00 PM match. Maybe it will fill up as the game goes on.
The Rapids are working on trying to get the ball deep into our box but they seem to not be able to do it with consistency. Beautiful pass from Sabo to Javi only to have the Rapids defenders to man-handle Javi right outside the box. Javi is down right outside the box being checked out at '9 mark. He is up and trying to walk off, what seems to be a left ankle injury. Rapids are working hard to try and control the middle of the field but it is quite difficult with Kyle taking control of the ball. Very nice slide tackle by Olave to take the ball from the Rapids.
Grabavoy steals the ball from the Rapids middie and puts RSL on a counter attack only to be stopped by Beltran being called offsides. Rapids are trying to work both sides of the field but have continued to come up empty.
At '30 mark...
Nice save by Rimando. RSL is on the attack deep into the Rapids box. Another corner kick comes up short. A beautiful pass to Borchers only to have Borchers miss hit it off his head to keep the score at 0. RSL is really working the middle of the field. Rapids on a counter with our backs getting back just in time for Wingert to stop the attempt on goal. Rapids have a corner kick that is knocked out of the box by Beltran. Fabi and Sabo working hard to get one another open for a break away. Rapids on a counter attack and miss kick the ball at '22 mark. RSL seems to be trying to spread the field as much as possible, in hopes to find an opening somewhere in the middle of the field.
Pretty tight played game right now and it seems both teams are not pressing but are playing relaxed. RSL seems to be in a little better groove then the Rapids right now. Eventhough, the Rapids have one more shot on goal then we do. RSL is working the middle of the field with Olave bringing it down only to get called offsides. Fabi steals the ball from the Rapids defender. Beltran takes a shot from about 35m out and Pickens mishandles the ball and it is a RSL corner.
At '45 mark...
It is now raining, sleating, part-snowing and it is getting really tough to type. At least I am under cover, I feel for the RSL faithful who have attended the game tonight.
Corner kick by the Rapids is stopped by an RSL defender. Olave saves a great chance by the Rapids to take a one goal lead. Rimando falls on the ball from half-shot ball from the right side of the goal at '34 mark. Espindola steals the ball and makes a brilliant pass to Sabo, but Sabo loses it in the box. Morales places the ball to the center of the box and Espindola makes an spectacular strike on goal. It just didn't have enough juice on it and Pickens escaped with placing one hand on the ball and stops it from going in. Morales places another great ball to Sabo only for Sabo to mishandle it. A hard tackle by Kimura puts Willliams on the ground at '38 mark.
RSL seems like they are finally placing some pressure on the Rapids defense. We are living with the ball on their side of the field. A couple of calls by the officials have kept RSL from really doing what they do best...ball control and attacking. Looks like RSL is playing for the half to end. The precipitation is really coming down now. It also looks like nearly all of the lower bowl is filled up. There are a few areas that look empty, but not much.
Finally, the officials are calling a free kick. The Rapids have been kicking the crap out of our middies. Javi just misses a shot from 30m out at '44 mark. Beautiful cross by Morales and Espindola heads it in goal only for the official to call it off b/c of offsides. It is half and time to warm up and get ready for the 2nd half.
RSL played pretty comfortably to begin the game as they usually try to control the middle of the field. Colorado seemed like they came to try and exploit our left and right backs. They know they are not going to get anything in the middle of the box because of two of the best center backs in MLS.
By the end of the '45, it seemed that RSL turned up the heat a little bit and started playing the brand of soccer that we know. They had a couple shot on goal which were stopped but I think that RSL will find the back of the net before this game is over and come out of tonight's match with another 3 points.
I would like to see Jason bring in Paulo to add some vest to the strikers tonight. After all, he has two goals in his last two MLS matches.
On to the 2nd half!
At '60 mark...
Nothing different to report to begin the 2nd half. Jason has not substituted at this time. Sabo is getting very upset at the official and talking back to him. He is about to get booked. RSL receives a corner and Morales kicks it in and Olave misses the header. RSL players are getting a little bossy with the refs. Let's hope it doesn't take them out of their game and they stick to Jason's game plan. Terrible shot by Larentowicz only to give the ball back to RSL.
RSL is not sharp tonight at all. We are working really hard to get into their box. Morales pushed the ball little too far out of reach for Fabi. Rapids' Kimura passes to Cummings only for Cummings to miss hit the ball and Borchers kicked the ball out of our box. Long shot by Folan wide right. Yellow Card was issued to Marshall at '59 mark on knocking Morales off his feet.
At '75 mark...
I hoping Jason brings in Paulo Jr and Collen Warner. Give Sabo and Morales some down time before the big match next week down in Mexico. Rapids' subbing Quincy Amarikwa for Cummings at '64 mark. Sabo mishandles the ball again in the box and you can tell Kreis is aware of how many that has been tonight. Looks like Kreis is calling on Paulo Jr. to warm up. Kimura was down on the pitch but seems to be fine now. At '66 mark, Amarikwa is limping off the field awaiting for the official to bring him back on. Beautiful pass by Fabi to Sabo but official calls Sabo offsides. Nyassi subs for Amarikwa and Paulo Jr. subs for Sabo at '69 mark.
Let's see what Paulo Jr. can do in this match. He has two goals in two MLS matches this season thus far. Great defense by the Rapids these last couple of minutes. A pass by Wingert gets a little too far away from Espindola to reach for a goal. Nice defense now for RSL on their half of the field. Goal kick by Nick at '74 mark places the ball in perfect position for Paulo Jr. But RSL cannot make anything of it.
At '90 mark...
Paulo Jr. was just fouled in the box with no call and a player from the Rapids takes a dive without anyone touching him. It is getting a little heated now. The Rapids are doing their best to get the ball into our box with no such luck. Rimando saves the ball as I type the statement above. RSL is working on trying to get the ball to Paulo Jr. but cannot seem to get it to him. Nice little passing in the box gives us a golden opportunity to get a shot on goal but the Rapids collapse on our players just in time. Javi kicks in a corner only to be punched out by Picke
Wynne was issued a Yellow Card at '82 mark for running over Espindola. Great defense in the Rapids box keeps RSL from get a shot on goal. The attendance tonight was announced as 15,513. Rimando made a spectacular diving stop on a shot from the Rapids at '84 mark. Hopefully, RSL can muster up one goal in the final five minutes.
Seems like the Rapids players are starting to milk by acting injured. They will be happy to get out of here tonight with a draw. Of course, RSL is never happy not earning three points at home. Rapids' Akpan subs for Smith at '86 mark. The Rapids are collapsing as many players as they can in the box right now. Shot on goal from Paulo Jr is stopped by Pickens. Rapids get a corner kick and can't do anything with it. Gotta give kudos to the fans who are still here with the snow that is coming down now. The official gives us three minutes of stoppage time. RSL is really working on getting the ball in the box. Rapids foul Olave at 22m that gives us a free kick.
You gotta be kidding me! Morales smacks it off the post and deflects back to Espindola who places the ball into the back of the net in stoppage time to get a one goal lead! RSL 1 and Colorado 0. Game over!
End of Game and Final Thoughts...
What a fantastic way to finish the game for all these wonderful RSL fans who stayed to the bitter (cold) end! I was talking about us having a finish like what just happened and it transpired. The temperature stated that it was 52 degrees tonight, but I don't believe as I sit here typing away and watching the snow fall on Rio Tinto.
Well, the goal in the waning moments keeps us undefeated and untied (if that is a word) for this young season. We are at the top of the MLS standings with 12 points in four matches. I'm signing off from Sandy on this extremely cold, yet exciting match tonight.
RSL 1:0 Colorado