It hasn’t quite even been a month since Real Salt Lake last met the Colorado Rapids for the first time this year back on April 9th, but it seems that a good amount has already changed with both sides in this short span of time.
Going into week six of MLS play, Real Salt Lake sat at number three in the western conference on eight points (fourth overall), while Colorado sat two spots behind them, at fifth in the west on seven points (sixth overall).
RSL trailed Sporting Kansas City by one point, and league-leaders FC Dallas by two points. The Rapids were tied on points with the LA Galaxy but were behind on goal differential.
Salt Lake were one of two unbeaten teams in the league at this point, boasting a record of 2-0-2 along with Orlando City SC.
Of course, this was only after five weeks of play, and both RSL and Colorado had only played four games apiece at this point.
Heading into week 10 as these teams meet again, three teams sit atop the western conference with 17 points each. The west is currently dominating the supporters shield race, as the top team in the east (Montreal Impact, 14 points) is sixth overall in the league.
Colorado holds the top spot in both the west and overall, with Real Salt Lake trailing behind at number two based solely on goal differential (and a game in hand). Colorado’s differential is four while RSL is only two behind. FC Dallas, while tied at 17 points, sits in the third spot with a negative two goal differential.
While it doesn’t have any affect on the standings, it’s worth noting for our pride that while the Rapids have a higher goal differential, RSL has a higher points per game (2.13 to 1.89). RSL holds the highest points per game in the league coming into week 10 of play.
Missing a couple key players, Colorado was without their DP striker Kevin Doyle who was out with an injury he received in an international match while playing with Ireland. The Rapids were also waiting for the debut of brand new signing Jermaine Jones, who was still serving a six-match suspension for his actions at the end of the 2015 season.
RSL was nearly at full-force on April 9th, seeing only a couple changes in the usual starting lineup. Justen Glad started at center back in place of Olave following his outstanding performance in Kansas City the week before, and Javier Morales wasn’t in the starting lineup, but came on as a substitute in the 64th minute for Luke Mulholland.
Kevin Doyle is back from injury, and Jermaine Jones will be playing his fourth match back from suspension. The veteran midfielder has seen more of an attacking role with Colorado instead of a holding midfielder position like he usually plays, and has found himself with two goals and two assists through 266 minutes played so far.
Although they have Jones back, Colorado has been missing Marco Pappa due to a sprained knee for the last two games. He was originally slated to miss two to four weeks, and we have yet to hear any word on if he will be available for the match against RSL.
The big lineup news for Real Salt Lake going into this weekend’s matchup will be whether Joao Plata will be available for selection or not. He was sidelined with an injury in training in late April and was expected to miss 7-10 days, and while reports are saying it’s likely he will be available on Saturday, we have yet to hear an official word on his status.
Despite any differences between last month’s and this weekend’s game, this Saturday will prove to be a battle for the top of the MLS tower. Both teams have surprised the league by jumping off to a great start after dismal endings to the 2015 season.
RSL will be looking to hand the Rapids their first home loss this season (both teams are 4-0-0 at home) and will hope to take their third win out of their last four visits to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.