Well, it is that time again, to get the Rocky Mountain Cup going again. First things first, Colorado comes in with a 7-3-3 record, and RSL has slipped to 4-5-4 after poor showings against the LA Galaxy and LAFC. For Colorado, there are some key things to look for as they come to Rio Tinto Stadium.
First, they will be without a few players: Kellyn Acosta, Johnathan Lewis, and Sam Vines who are with the USMNT for the Gold Cup. Colorado retired Pablo Mastroeni on July 4th, and he is on the bench for RSL now as part of their technical staff, and of course Robin Fraser, Colorado’s head coach, started out on the bench for Real Salt Lake. Would it help if we traded Freddy Juarez and Pablo Mastroeni for Robin Fraser?? Just kidding...well...mostly just kidding...
OK, so what strengths do Colorado bring to the RIOT? First, defense. Their keeper is tied for the most clean sheets. They have given up the fewest goals in the second half and no one has scored on them in the first 15 minutes yet (here’s looking at you Damir ‘karate kid’ Kreilach...) So, look for them to have a strong defensive showing, as RSL has been streaky on offense.
The two teams are tied with 21 goals on the season, however, Colorado has given up 3 fewer goals. The teams seem fairly evenly matched with finding the back of the net, however, Colorado does not have anyone who has consistently been a scoring threat. They have talented players and they have shown they can score, but think of it as a team effort. This is actually helped to Colorado against RSL, as defending against set pieces is not RSL’s strong suit at times, and also defensive breakdowns that tend to happen when a team is clicking have been the hallmarks for loses for RSL. So look for Colorado to score and score a lot if RSL continues their run. Let’s face it, without David Ochoa’s heroics, some of the last few matches could have seen 10 goals in the back of the next against RSL.
It is the Rocky Mountain Cup. The x-factor here is most likely going to be who cares about the rivalry. The last meeting saw Colorado win 5-0...and yeah, no Kyle Beckerman, and no real heart at times to the RSL team. This Colorado team is finding ways to win, and playing hardnose defense. They might just have the edge at the RIOT tonight.