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What we’re watching in Real Salt Lake vs the Colorado Rapids

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RSL host their oldest rival in the first meeting in the battle for the Rocky Mountain Cup

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake host the Colorado Rapids in the first game in the Rocky Mountain Cup for the 2018 season. RSL have been struggling, but have faced some of the toughest opponents in the league. The Rapids are coming off of a win against reigning campions Toronto FC and have strengthened their squad since their lackluster look in 2017.

Midfield struggles

NYCFC was a good example of the worst of this team: struggling on both sides of the ball. A 4-0 loss is a clear indication of that problem.

We need to see a better connection in the midfield. Kreilach and Beckerman haven’t quite figured out each other. It may be as simple as Damir adjusting to the league, but that part of the field has been problematic. Kyle is at his best when he can stay central and break up attacking play. From what we’ve seen from Damir when he was with Union Berlin, he was most effective when he could help move the ball up field and contribute to the attack. But we’ve not seen that yet this season. Watch to see how Becks and Damir interact with one another. If we see more of an understanding, that’s a good sign for the team’s chances going forward.

The attack

There are two spots not currently locked down in the attack: center forward and left wing. Going into the season, it was pretty much assumed that Plata would be the guy on the left and Alfredo Ortuño would assume the number 9. This hasn’t exactly happened. Plata picked up an injury that allowed Corey Baird to step in and the young academy product has impressed so far. Ortuño simply has not integrated with the team. If he’s going to be the main striker going forward, it’s unclear when he’s going to get the minutes he needs.

Besides competition for playing time, we want to see more goals. There’s a special sweetness to watching your team score a goal, especially at home against a rival. Scoring against the Rapids is one of the purest joys in life.

Marking and urgency

One of the biggest problems we saw in the NYCFC disaster was a lack of urgency. Players weren’t pressuring for the ball, the passing was slow and sloppy, and the back line was largely left out on their own. RSL is obviously at their best when we see everyone contribute on both sides of the ball. This sluggishness is not how head coach Mike Petke wants his team to play. It’s certainly not the kind of soccer the fans want to watch. And it’s not the kind of soccer we played for the second half of last season. Whatever is causing this problem, we all want to see this cleaned up. Look to see how players are fighting on the field.

RSL Injury Report

OUT: Tony Beltran

Jordan Allen

Taylor Peay

QUESTIONABLE:

Aaron Herrera

Shawn Barry

Demar Phillips

Marcelo Silva

PROBABLE:

Joao Plata

Luke Mulholland

Not on this list, but Maddie Lee of the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting Horst is out as well.

Predicted Line Up

Rimando

Lennon, Glad, Acosta, Henley

Beckerman, Kreilach

Baird, Rusnak, Savarino

L. Silva