Sandy • Saturday’s game pitting Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will be about more than a trophy.
The Rocky Mountain Cup rivals both need to turn over a new leaf entering the final full month of the summer schedule. Points are there to be had as the Western Conference playoff race promises to become more crowded and convoluted.
RSL at Colorado RapidsAt Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.
Kickoff » Saturday, 7 p.m. TV » Ch. 4. Radio » 700 AM
Records » RSL 8-4-9; Colorado 8-7-6
Last meeting » RSL 2, Colorado 1 (May 17)
About RSL » After its 6-0-6 start, the club has gone 2-4-3 in its last nine matches. … RSL hasn’t had a shutout since the May 24 0-0 draw with FC Dallas. … The club has allowed one goal in each of its last six outings. … Forward Joao Plata leads the team in goals scored with nine after his goal against New York Wednesday evening. … The club is 5-1-5 so far in 2014 at home and 3-3-4 on the road. … Goalkeeper Nick Rimando remains one shutout away from tying the all-time regular-season shutout record currently held by retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman with 112 clean sheets.
About Colorado » Currently in fourth place in the West and with 30 points, the Rapids are paced offensively by Deshorn Brown (seven goals), Vicente Sanchez (six goals) and Dillon Powers (six assists). … The Rapids face RSL, FC Dallas, D.C. United, Los Angeles and Seattle in August. … Colorado went 3-3-3 in June and July. … Deshorn Brown is fifth in the league in shots taken with 65. … This will be the second meeting between RSL and Colorado in 2014. … The final meeting between the two rivals will be on Sept. 19 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
The last two months haven’t been kind to RSL and Colorado, the second- and fourth-place teams in the West, respectively. Real Salt Lake has gone just 2-3-3 while the Rapids are 3-3-3, and both were dumped out of the U.S. Open Cup Tournament by Atlanta of the NASL.
"They’re going to be fired up and ready to come after it on Saturday," said RSL defender Nat Borchers, "and so are we."
The last time the two teams met in mid-May, RSL earned itself a leg up toward regaining the Cup — after the Rapids took possession of it for the first time in six seasons in 2013 — after beating Colorado 2-1 at home.
Colorado routed Chivas USA 3-0 on July 25, then thrashed itself by the same score on Wednesday at New England. But however on-and-off they’ve been, the Rapids have serious firepower.
Deshorn Brown, Vicente Sanchez, Dillon Powers and Dillon Serna pace a versatile offensive attack that has gotten contributions from several players.
"Colorado is going to be a tough game," midfielder Javier Morales said. "We have to win because we need three points, and we have to go there and take it to them to win it."
The crowded slate of matches continues for RSL. After traveling to Colorado to face the Rapids — three days after its 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls at Rio Tinto — the club faces upstart D.C. United, then hosts league-leading Seattle a week later. The following week features a trip to FC Dallas.
Similarly, the Rapids face RSL, FC Dallas, D.C. United, L.A. and Seattle in August.
This month could go a long way in shaping the last few weeks of the season.
"That’s the summer of the MLS schedule," defender Chris Wingert said. "That’s how it is all around the world in the middle of the season. I like it in terms of keeping things going and keeping things busy."
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