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

RSL host the Rapids in the first game of the 2024 Rocky Mountain Cup and the weather looks much better than last week

What we’re watching in Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids
Lucas Muller | Wasatch Soccer Sentinel

Real Salt Lake are home again, this time they host their oldest rival, the Colorado Rapids. It's the first contest of the 2024 Rocky Mountain Cup, and RSL will want to secure a home win and show that their winning ways aren't weather dependant.

The last game

RSL’s last game was anything but normal. It was delayed by over two hours due to wind and dust, then played for 3 minutes before lightning caused a half hour delay, and by the time the game resumed, it was a full-on snow blizzard. RSL did manage to beat LAFC 3-0. A massive result given LAFC’s historical dominance in past games. But with the snow being such a massive factor, it’s difficult to draw any real conclusions other than RSL were able to fight through the conditions and LA were not.

Making up for lost players

RSL are out a number of key players for this game. Pablo Ruiz being out for the season is far and away the greatest loss. Ruiz just returned from a season-ending injury that he suffered in 2023. He went on to play in 3 games before tearing his ACL in training this week.

Justen Glad is listed as questionable for this game. Without Glad, we will see Marcelo Silva and Brayan Vera start at CB. Holt is likely the next man up after those two.

Lastly, Braian Ojeda received two yellows last weekend, and thus will miss this week’s game. With both Ruiz and Ojeda out, the midfield starts to look thin. The assumed replacements are Emeka Enili and Nelson Palacio. It’s a big task for two younger players.

On the positive side, Alexandros Katranis is available for selection for RSL.

Playing through the middle

In seasons past, it often seemed that RSL wanted to avoid the midfield as much as possible, preferring to advance the ball via the wings. This year it looks different. The team is much more comfortable playing through the middle. Crooks is certainly an asset there. Luna, while playing wing, often comes to the center. This helps put Real in the drivers seat in the attack and affords them better attacking chances.

The opposition

The Colorado Rapids have had a rough start to the year. They lost 4-1 to the Timbers to open their season, then drew 1-1 with Nashville in their next game. They’ve brought in some new players like Zack Steffen, Sam Vines, and Djordje Mihailovic. They’re a team that looks different from last season, but it’s early and unclear if their player moves will bring any real success under Chris Armas.

Player availability

Suspended: Ojeda (second yellow)

Out: Bonilla (knee injur) Farnsworth (shoulder) Ruiz (knee injury)

Questionable: Glad (hamstring injury suffered Wednesday)

International Duty: Gozo/Hezarkhani (U.S. U-17s March 10-15)

Predicted lineup

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