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Match preview: RSL travels to Colorado as MLS season resumes

The MLS regular season resumes this week as teams will be facing off in their own stadiums following the conclusion of the MLS is Back tournament.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

MLS is Back. No, not the tournament, but they’re back for real. Teams are playing in their home stadiums — some even allowing small amounts of fans (including RSL) — as MLS begins “phase one” of the remainder of the regular season after a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First up for Real Salt Lake is long-time Rocky Mountain Rivals, the Colorado Rapids. The last time these two met was in the group stage of the MLS is Back tournament when RSL came out on top with a commanding 2-0 victory, making it four straight wins over their regional foes.

Now RSL will head out on the road to take on the Rapids in their first game outside of Orlando since the pandemic hiatus. Although they won’t be playing at home, they won’t be playing in front of fans either, so one has to wonder how much of an impact a road game will have on a team when it comes down to it in an empty stadium.

Colorado started the season with a bang

Under semi-newly-appointed head coach Robin Fraser, the Rapids started the 2020 season off with two impressive wins, taking down DC United and Orlando City SC with a 2-1 scoreline in both matches. The tournament in Orlando was a different story, as it saw them get off to a bad start with the aforementioned 2-0 loss to RSL. They finished up the group stage with a 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City and a 2-2 draw with Minnesota, and headed back home while the tournament continued on without them.

They currently sit in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, just barely above the playoff line for the time being.

Real Salt Lake needs to climb the table

Colorado is faring better than RSL in the table at the moment, though, who sit in ninth place with just six points to their name. Salt Lake started off the 2020 season with back-to-back draws, escaping Orlando with a 0-0 tie and a 1-1 result against the New York Red Bulls at home.

With only one win on the season, they’ll be out looking for another one against Kei Kamara, Kellyn Acosta, and the rest of the Rapids crew. Especially after the 5-2 blowout they suffered at the hands of the San Jose Earthquakes in the Round of 16 last month, Freddy Juarez and his squad will be itching to get back on track as the season continues.

Match info

When: Saturday, July 22, 7:00PM MT

Where: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park — Commerce City, CO

Weather: 93 degrees, mostly clear

Broadcast: KMYU, KSL TV (streaming), MLS Live on ESPN+ (streaming), ESPN700 (radio)