Real Salt Lake To Host Colorado With Rocky Mountain Cup On The Line

Jul 8, 2022, 2:31 PM | Updated: Jul 22, 2022, 11:08 am
Photo courtesy: Laura Dearden of Real Salt Lake.

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake will host rivals Colorado Rapids this upcoming Saturday evening, needing only a draw to hoist the Rocky Mountain Cup for the 13th time over the previous 17 seasons.

Real Salt Lake currently finds itself in the third position in the Western Conference and five points shy of second-place Austin F.C. While Colorado sits in the 12th position just two points clear of the bottom of the conference.

Rough Month

Since losing in the final minute to Vancouver on June 4, Real Salt Lake has failed to string performances together. After the Vancouver loss, Real Salt Lake beat San Jose before struggling at home the following week against Columbus. Last week’s 3-2 loss on the road against Minnesota added pressure onto manager Pablo Mastroeni for a bounce-back result this weekend against Colorado.

The disappointing four-game stretch has the playing group and the coaching staff on edge entering the final clash between Real Salt Lake and Colorado this year. On April 2nd, RSL and Colorado played to a 1-1 draw in suburban Denver after a Pablo Ruiz penalty was canceled by a Lalas Abubakar equalizer.

As always, the clash between Real Salt Lake and Colorado is expected to be a fiery affair. Both teams are in desperate need of a result.

Potential Starting XI Changes

Manager Pablo Mastroeni, who played for Colorado for 11 seasons before coaching them for three and a half years, enters this week’s fixture with an added emotional attachment to the game. In 2021, Mastroeni’s number 25 was retired by the Rapids, becoming the first number to ever be retired by the organization.

“I think maybe deep down inside it is,” Mastroeni said when asked if games against Colorado bare a more emotional toll on him nowadays. “It is a big game, but I think what makes me feel good is at the end of a game a really good performance,” he added.

It appears likely that Mastroeni will opt for a different starting XI this week given the poor start to the game last week against Minnesota. Rubio Rubin, who has started the previous two fixtures for Real Salt Lake following the abductor injury to Bobby Wood, is yet to have an impact. Whereas Anderson Julio has been a spark for Real Salt Lake off the bench as of late.

Leading into the game against Minnesota, Mastroeni admitted that Julio was starting to find the fitness and form from a year ago when he starred for Real Salt Lake on loan. It is likely that Julio gets the start against Colorado.

Furthermore, Jasper Löffelsend has also played himself into a starting role over the previous months. Löffelsend was brought into the game at halftime against Minnesota and much like Julio will likely start against Colorado.

The status of center-back Justen Glad remains in question. A day before the Minnesota fixture Glad injured his hamstring and failed to make the trip north but on Wednesday he was a full participant at training. Given the sensitivity of hamstring injuries, it would be surprising if Glad returns to a starting role as soon as this weekend.

Diego Luna, 18, has returned from international duty with the US under-21 National Team and will be available. However, Luna told KSL Sports in an exclusive interview that it will likely take him at least two weeks before he is capable of starting for Real Salt Lake. During his stint with the under-21 national team, Luna experienced illness in the form of a stomach bug.

Match Info

Real Salt Lake will return home for a Rocky Mountain clash against Colorado Rapids on Saturday, July 9 with kick-off scheduled for 8 p.m.

The fixture will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports and KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.

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Real Salt Lake To Host Colorado With Rocky Mountain Cup On The Line