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Match Preview: RSL face Rapids yet again after 1-1 draw in SLC

Photo by James Bosworth

Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids face each other after a scant three-week break, although the look and feel of the Utah side is bound to be slightly different as veteran players ease into full fitness.

Bolstering RSL coach Jason Kreis's hopes is Javier Morales, who could play 45 minutes, perhaps starting the match. Morales played 30 minutes last weekend, and while he looked slightly rusty, the class was obvious.

Should Morales start, it's likely that one of Sebastian Velasquez and Luis Gil would go to the bench; Gil has been deployed at the top of the diamond and might drop in a like-for-like change, or he could replace the less experienced Velasquez deeper in the diamond. Ned Grabavoy and Kyle Beckerman are essentially locks to make the match.

Robbie Findley is set to miss out, though, and Joao Plata spent Friday's training session jogging around the pitch. It's surely not a good sign for today's match, but the potential return of Alvaro Saborio from injury provides a slight glimmer of hope. Devon Sandoval, a strong, powerful rookie, could be deployed up top alongside Saborio, while Olmes Garcia is certain to at least be on the bench.

A pairing of Garcia-Sandoval seems unlikely, but if Saborio is unavailable, the Colombian, in his first year at the club, could make his first start.

Saborio, who was suffering from knee swelling, has scored three goals in his three games so far, but international duty and injury concerns kept him out of the last two matches.

The defense, for once this season, seems clear. Tony Beltran starts on the right, and Nat Borchers partners with Chris Schuler in the center. The one veteran missing, Chris Wingert, is still working his way back from broken bones in his foot sustained during the offseason and will surely miss this one, but he's been in full training and played in a friendly against BYU on Monday. This leaves Abdoulie Mansally in his place at left back.

With Colorado Rapids heaving attackers at RSL on the break, having the cool head of Nat Borchers in the side will undoubtedly help. When RSL last faced them, Schuler was repeatedly caught out in one of his less inspiring displays of defending; he's since remedied his form and will benefit from a stayed hand aside him.