It’s a Rocky Mountain Cup clash, and unlike the last time these two teams met, Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids will meet in the Rockies, or at least on the Commerce City side of them.
Can the team score?
RSL started the MLS Is Back tournament strong, with a 2-0 win over the Rapids. However, the team feel apart after that. They tied their second game 0-0, lost their third 0-2, and finally scored again in a 2-5 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes. There was clearly an issue with scoring throughout the tournament. Overall, it was a strange situation with the bubble, heat and humidity, etc. but I’m not sure what has changed to improved this team’s ability to score. Douglas Martínez had a decent showing in Orlando, but with Rossi and Johnson ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s hard to say if he will start. Rossi and Johnson both haven’t had the impact we expected and this game could be an opportunity for them to prove they can score some goals.
The five substitution rule is still in place and Real needs to take advantage of that. One of the chief complaints of the last several years has been how the coaching staff use subs. Often all three, or five, are not used and many come in so late that players do not have time impact the game. It’s a rare player that can walk onto the field and make an instant difference. RSL’s backline seems fairly solidified, but the midfield and, more-so the attack, have room for rotation. How will Juarez use those five subs?
Nedum and Justen
Center back Nedum Onuoha’s time at RSL looked like it may have been done, especially if MiB was the only other MLS soccer we saw in 2020. But with the return of the regular season, Onuoha is available for selection. He hasn’t played since March, but with Uruguayan defender Marcelo Silva out on a red card suspension, Glad and Onuoha should start together. This is RSL’s strongest center back pairing, and while young Erik Holt has been overall good, especially with the Monarchs last season, he’s not going to displace either Justen or Nedum.
Marcel Silva and Kyle Beckerman (red card suspension)