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Behind enemy lines: Scouting Colorado Rapids

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

After enjoying another three points at Rio Tinto, Real will face a five game road trip that won't see them back at the RioT until June 18th. The first destination on the itinerary will nearby Commerce City, Colorado to play their Rocky Mountain rival: Colorado Rapids. The first matchup of the year ended in a 1-0 home win for RSL. This fixture will be of no less importance in regards to the league table and for the rights of the Rocky Mountain cup. Colorado currently sit atop the league table albeit only by goal difference. Real Salt Lake will look to leapfrog their rival doing FC Dallas a favor as well.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports


All eyes will be on Zac MacMath this match. The previous fixture saw a blunder between him and Axel Sjöberg give RSL the go-ahead and eventual game winning goal. The Colorado back line will be looking to clean up any silly mental errors to ensure an extended stay at the top of the table. Tim Howard will be donning the Colorado burgundy and white for the Rapids final regular season matchup with Real on August 26th, relegating MacMath to the bench barring any injuries/suspensions.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports


The middle of the back four will consist of defensive giants Axel Sjöberg and Bobby Burling once again. Burling in particular will be feeling pretty good after notching a goal for his side last week against Montreal. The Rapids will look to young gun Marlon Hairston to play on the right side of defense in stead of the injured Eric Miller. Marc Burch or Mekeil Williams will feature on the left side to round out the Rapids back four.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports


A welcome sight for Rapids fans will be seeing Jermaine Jones of the United States national team anchoring their midfield. A first Rocky Mountain derby will be on the cards for the 34 year old midfielder. Jones is known to have a feisty temperament, so it will be intriguing to see how he acclimatizes to a local rivalry. Anchoring the midfield behind Jones will likely be a pair of holding defensive midfielders. Colorado will have a decision to make between Sam Cronin, Dillon Powers or Micheal Azira to feature in the starting lineup. A playmaking presence that will be missed for Colorado fans is Marco Pappa, who looks set to miss out through injury. On the bright side though, opposite winger Shkëlzen Gashi seems to be finding form of late after providing a goal and assist last week against the Impact. Luis Solignac or Dillon Serna may serve as Pappa's replacement on the right side of the midfield.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports


Another pleasant addition to the Rapids starting XI this time around will be designated player Kevin Doyle. The 32 year old Irish DP has a wealth of experience in English football with an extremely respectable goal scoring record in over 300 appearances between Reading FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers. His goal scoring prowess has yet to come off in MLS, but with the Rapids multitude of newly acquired creative outlets in the midfield he may start piling his goal tally very soon.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports