There’s a certain weirdness about preseason matches against Colorado Rapids, in that they rarely feel all that consequential. They’re not Rocky Mountain Cup matches. They’re not really heated rivalry matches. They just sort of ... exist.
And you know what? That’s fine. Sporting Kansas City fills that void for us, and we can be too sad about just having a normal preseason match. This time around, though? I don’t know. There’s some potential here.
Here’s what we’re watching — and how to watch.
How to watch RSL vs. Colorado Rapids in 2021 preseason action
When: Saturday, April 3 at 7 p.m. An earlier version of this article said 6 p.m., per RSL on Twitter. That information has since been corrected by the club.
Stream: KSL TV app, KSLSports.com
Rubio Rubin’s rampaging runs
OK, so I’m not actually watching for rampaging runs, but it’s preseason and I’ve got to test these things out. But I am definitely watching Rubio Rubin, who, for me, is the most exciting addition this year for RSL. The one match I’ve watched from him in preseason (because we’ve only had one to watch, really) saw him engaged in some good connective play up top, and we have so missed that. It’s great when a player wants to make a nice run off the shoulder, but not every play should take that form.
Rubin offers something RSL hasn’t had for several years now. Sam Johnson’s runs were good, but they often removed him from build-up play. Damir Kreilach would often dip too far back into a more natural midfield position while playing at forward, or he’d lead the line as a traditional hold-up player. He’s a wonderful goalscorer, good for a half-dozen a season without controversy, but he’s a stop-gap at forward. Corey Baird’s first touch was erratic, and he, too, excelled off the shoulder.
Rubin? He plays centrally. He connects play. He’s a very interesting player for us, and he adds some completion to the way we play. He’s also probably going to be supplanted by Bobby Wood at forward if he doesn’t excel, so I think there’s an extra bit of motivation there. Color me excited.
The Ochoa Question
At least once last year, Lucas wrote about The Ochoa Question. That remains a question now. Ochoa needs minutes if he’s going to be the goalkeeper of the future, let alone the present. We know he has the ability, but he needs time to get his feet under him in MLS. Preseason should be the time to start in on that, so let’s see him play.
The Pablo Mastroeni effect
This is still weird to me, that Pablo Mastroeni is sat on our bench during matches against the Rapids and not pacing the sideline for the opposition. Is there extra motivation for him? In preseason? I don’t know, but that would be fun to watch.