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Match Preview: RSL looking to capitalize on Rapids' absences

Rob Carr

The hunt for a seventh consecutive Rocky Mountain Cup is on, with pointless Colorado Rapids visiting Rio Tinto Stadium this afternoon.

Real Salt Lake, with three points after an opening-day win against San Jose Earthquakes, will certainly be looking to capitalize on the poor form of the Rapids, although it should be noticed that their rivals have well outpassed their opponents in both losses so far.

As such, some caution will be due on the part of the midfield; RSL may need to particularly focus on controlling possession to cut off their opponent's options throughout. However, absences of key players for both sides may be as much a factor as any possession consideration: Real Salt Lake remains without Chris Wingert and Javier Morales, and while Nat Borchers has been training fully, he isn't likely to make the bench but may feature in the reserves game shortly after tonight's main event. No minor injuries have been reported, although David Viana apparently spent time working with head athletic trainer Tyson Pace.

Colorado will be without midfielders Jaime Castrillon, out after knee surgery, and Martin Rivero, out with a broken foot. They've got a few questionable players, too: forward Edson Buddle could be out, as could goalkeeper and RSL rivalry favorites Matt Pickens, who has a leg injury, and Pablo Mastroeni, who is suffering from a hamstring strain. The goalkeeper will likely play, given reports from Colorado Rapids commentator Richard Fleming that the keeper completed a full training session yesterday with the club,

RSL's midfield could include Ned Grabavoy, who has returned to the squad following a family emergency; whether this relegates the reasonably strong Khari Stephenson to the bench or whether Grabavoy is a substitute option is difficult to say this point, as the RSL veteran has missed significant training sessions in his absence.

Abdoulie (née Kenny) Mansally will miss the match through suspension after he was punished by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for a head to the chest of D.C. United midfielder Perry Kitchen. Lovel Palmer is expected to start in his place, leaving a spot on the bench for newcomer and former Columbus Crew defender Rich Balchan.

RSL will face the Rapids again in three weeks, this time at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. They'll be hopeful that a win tonight and then will seal the Rocky Mountain Cup for a seventh-straight year.