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

It’s the final game of 2019 Rocky Mountain Cup

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Real Salt Lake have suffered their first loss under interim head coach Freddy Juarez, but the team has been in good form overall. They lost last weekend to league leaders LAFC, and while you don’t want to ever lose at home, a loss to LAFC is no real shock. The Colorado Rapids are in 11th place in the west on 27 points (RSL are on 40) and have lost their last two games. With a win for RSL (and if LA Galaxy tie or lose to LAFC), Real would be second in the western conference table.

Bouncing back

It’s the first loss in the Freddy Juarez era and the team’s response will be very telling of the mindset Juarez is looking to instill in the squad. The fact that RSL had concede first in two games under Juarez and still battled back for wins (NYCFC and SKC) is a strong indicator that the team has a fighting mindset. The Rapids are also a poor team. They have a 7-13-6 record and are averaging a shocking 1.04 points per game. If RSL ever needed a game to give them confidence after a home loss, this is that game.

Suspensions and replacements

Two regular starters will miss this game through suspension. Right back Aaron Herrera received a red card against LAFC and will be serving his suspension tonight. Forward Corey Baird received his 5th yellow card in that same game, so he’ll be serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation.

This means that we’re likely to see Brooks Lennon come into his old spot at right back. It’s not his best position, but he’s grown a good deal in that role and is certainly serviceable, especially given that Tony Beltran is still injured. We should see Donny Toia on the left wing, and that isn’t a terrible pairing for the outside backs.

The attack is much less an issue. Corey Baird has been very good in his last few games, but RSL has a decent number of attacking talent. I’d like to see Johnson start as the center forward, with Savarino and Rusnak on the wings and Kreilach in the number 10 role. That’s the only way I can think of that gets all of the team’s attacking talent in the attack at the same time.

Injury Report

OUT:

Allen (knee 6/16/17; Season Ending)

Beltran (knee; 3/15/19)

Besler(foot; 8/10/19)

SUSPENDED:

Baird (yellow card accumulation)

Herrera (red card)

Predicted Lineup