Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rocky Mountain Cup: Round 1



Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids

Saturday May 2, 2009 7:30 PM

Dicks Sporting Goods Park

KUTV 2.2/Comcast 111, KALL 700



Colorado Rapids - 

Questionable: DF Ty Harden (Hamstring), DF Cory Gibbs (R Groin)

Real Salt Lake - 

Out: DF Ian Joy (L Hamstring strain)



Colorado Rapids: None

Real Salt Lake: Javier Morales (suspended with next yellow)

Position breakdown:

Goalkeeping: Colorado has two keepers this season that are an upgrade over the adventure that was Bouna Coundoul last season.  However, Preston Burpo is the least affective of the two, but has had the starting nod while Matt Pickens recovered from injury.  Pickens is back now, but Burpo is still the projected starter which is good news for RSL.  Real Salt Lake will be without Chris Seitz in reserve as he is once again on loan – this time in Portland.  However, he shouldn’t be needed as Nick Rimando has proven to be rock solid over the last couple of years.: ADVANTAGE: RSL

Defenders: Colorado hasn’t had a clean sheet this season, giving up 1.3 goals per game this year, and 1 goal per game at home.  RSL has given up slightly over a goal per game this season, but 2 per game on the road.  However, the addition of Robbie Russell appeared to really solidify the backline for RSL last week.  Borchers and Olave are solid in the middle, and Olave’s athleticism will help counter the similar attributes of Cummings.  Wingert and Russell are good on the outside, but get forward frequently exposing the team to counterattack possibilities.  The Rapids have two injuries in back that will affect them with Gibbs and Harden out. ADVANTAGE: RSL

Midfielders: Clark on the left side is a tremendous talent for Colorado, but he sometimes lacks in quality.  Cooke on the right is probably the best crosser of the ball in the league, but the lack of athleticism gets exposed in this league.  Mehdi Ballouchy had a couple of good stretches earlier this season, but he had another stinker last week.  Of course, Pablo is a real anchor in the back, and proved last season that he could single-handedly shut down Morales.  On the other side, there is no questioning the quality of Morales and Will Johnson, but Clint Mathis has been Real Salt Lake’s best midfielder this season.  And ex-Rapid Kyle Beckerman has been picking his spots to get forward this season.  With the danger that Colorado creates up top he may need to stay home more in this one.  ADVANTAGE: RSL

Forwards: Similar inconsistency has existed for both sets of forwards.  Conor Casey is probably the most consistent of the bunch with 4 goals this season.  For RSL Robbie Findley also has 4 goals this season as both players netted a hat-trick in the same week.  The other forward for each team is a bit of an enigma.  Yura Movsisyan is constantly creating danger with his physical skills, but has struggled putting them in the net. Omar Cummings also has tremendous physical talent, but the Jamaican also has not proven an ability to be a consistent scorer for the Rapids. ADVANTAGE: DRAW

Intangibles: The Rapids hasn’t shown the knock-out home turf supremacy that they would like to over the last season or so, but RSL has been entirely dreadful on the road.  Coaching may fall in RSL’s favor, since the Rapids coaching staff is still a work in process as they put into place their style of play. ADVANTAGE: Rapids

This will be an interesting contrast in styles as RSL will play up the throat with their tight diamond midfield which relies on possession and crisp passing.  The Rapids will try to get the ball out wide and use the width to their advantage.  I think the talk from RSL about a different approach on the road is just that, mostly talk.  I don’t see this coach or this team changing their aggressive approach much.  Unfortunately RSL has not shown anything on the road and until they do, I can’t favor them against good competition.  My bet: 2-1 Colorado