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Real Salt Lake and Rapids ready for playoff berth battle


Two teams, one game, one playoff spot.

That is the easiest way to describe tonight’s crucial showdown between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Real Salt Lake needs a win or draw to secure third place in the Western Conference while the Rapids must win the match in order to secure the same spot.

Who will be favored going into the weekend’s most highly-anticipated match? It’s not that easy to figure out because both teams have strengths and weaknesses that will be key factors in what should be a memorable regular-season finale.

So who comes in with the better form?

  • Real Salt Lake is 2-0-2 in its past four. Colorado is 2-2 in its past four
  • RSL is 1-1-2 in its past four on the road. Colorado is 2-1-1 in its past four at home.

These teams last met on Aug. 29 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Real Salt Lake registered a 2-0 win on that day, with Fabian Espindola nothing both goals.

Things have changed a bit since that last meeting. For RSL, Espindola has been sidelined with an ankle injury, paving the way for Yura Movsisyan to step up and emerge as the team’s top striker. Real Salt Lake also didn’t have Canadian forward/midfielder Will Johnson, who has emerged as a solid contributor.

Colorado has changed as well. Since taking over as head coach in late August, Gary Smith has helped shape the team in his image and the result has been a 4-1-2 record since September. Striker Conor Casey has emerged as one of the league’s top strikers in the second half of the season.

Here is how the teams could line up on Saturday (Colorado players in bold):














Colorado’s lineup is quite a bit more difficult to predict. Whether at forward (McManus or Cummings), defense (Ihemelu or Gibbs) or midfield (Cooke or Ballouchy).

The battle will be in central midfield, where Pablo Mastroeni will look to shackle Javier Morales, while Kyle Beckerman will look to get into the attack while also shadowing Nick LaBrocca. The potential Will Johnson-Terry Cooke match-up will be very interesting. You have two players who aren’t crazy about defending but love to get into the attack. Whichever of them is more effective getting forward, and more capable of not being a defensive liability, will help their team win.

The funny thing is about a month ago you wouldn’t have given RSL a chance of winning on the road, but their road form has been much better the past month and the Real Salt Lake offense will keep the visitors in Saturday’s game, even if the Rapids get off to a fast start.

What do you think of Saturday’s match? Which match-up do you see determining the outcome? Which team do you see winning the game?

Share your thoughts on the big Real Salt Lake-Colorado Rapids clash in the comments section below.


  1. Two teams enter, one leaves. Man, shades of “Beyond Thunderdome,” it’s just outstanding that this game means so much to these teams. When we reach the point where 70% of the league matches have so much meaning behind them, we’ll see a much higher standard of play, sharper players who are better at high levels. This is a good thing. May the best team win.


    We hate Salt Lake, and

    We hate Salt Lake,

    We hate Salt Lake, and

    We hate Salt Lake,

    We hate Salt Lake, and

    We hate Salt Lake

    We are the Salt Lake Haters!

    F@ck you Salt Lake!

  3. One thing us American soccer fans do better than much of the world is keeping religion and ethnicity out of soccer. Let’s keep it that way

    Prediction: Colorado 3 RSL 2

  4. Don’t see how Mormonism fits into the RSL discussion. If you want to disuss the religion with an active Mormon, feel free to shoot me an email, but comments like those shouldn’t be on these blogs (not that they were bad, but they potentially could be as I’m sure you can imagine). Hate the team, hate the state, but let’s try and leave religion out of this or at least try and be a little more respectful please.

    If you’re wondering, I’m not an RSL supporter, but I would love to go to that new stadium of theirs sometime. Houston with the 3-peat!


  5. Damn, wasted 15 mins trying to find my preseason prediction of Crew and RSL as the surprise teams of the year. Not usually that smart, so I wanted to milk it. Anyways, it’s somewhere in the archives, so come on RSL, make me look good!

  6. How many people are expected to show up for this one? Seems like if the Rapids fans would show up for any match this season, it would be this one. The question probably should be: how many Rapids fans are there, really?

  7. I think most neutrals are pulling for RSL, with them having the new stadium and it would be a good story and all that, but I see the Rapids at home and being in a bit better form at the moment. I say cRapids 3-1.

  8. crapids suck you all know it. you have to bring religion into it cause you know your team is rubbish. thats the end of my trash talking now i’ll let my team do the rest this weekend. RSL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Thanks for bringing religion into a debate about a soccer game! Have a hard time reading?? Just see the word utah so you have to mention religion? It’s kinda like when I hear the word Denver i think of trailor parks and fat chicks.

    I still cannot believe that the 4 fans that Crapids have knew how to type to get on the internet.

    Which fan base deserves it more? RSL

    Which team deserves it more? RSL

    Which team will get the result they need? RSL

    Which team named their stadium after their fan base? CRAPIDS

  10. Yes, it is. Since when are all “the people of Utah” followers of Joe Smith? Small minds…small minds…

    RSL wins this one easily.

  11. I’m leaning toward RSL in this match. They have a much stronger defense, with a huge amount of talent in the Olave/Borchers center pairing. Their front line, mainly Mathis, has not been spectacular, but if Espindola gets into the game at all, RSL will win this game easily. Espindola killed the rapids last time around, and I’m betting he’ll do it again. Plus, Javier Morales is one of the top five midfielders in the entire league, and all Colorado has is in their midfield is washed up Mastroeni and “Money Guzzler” Gomez.

    2-1 RSL.

  12. Is it bigoted to reference Joseph Smith when talking about the people of Utah? It’s a fact that some foolish people thought a guy with the flashy name of “Joe Smith” was leading them to the promised land. I’ve been to RSL and it’s no promised land, I can assure you. And RSL fans are nothing special, I can also assure you of that.

  13. Casper said, “…FSL fans go back to the teachings of Joseph Smith.” Do you enjoy the bigot sunshine? “Small minds stand protected under bigot sunshine.”

    RSL 2-0.

  14. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Borchers on the backline for RSL, with Russell on the wing in Kovalenko’s place.

    That central back spot has been Borchers’ all season, and he only missed it last week because of a neck strain. Russell supposedly has the pace to deal with Colorado’s wing attack.

    Gimmi, I don’t even know what team has black and gold. Are you talking about the Crew? On this article? Moron.

    Anyway, RSL will win…I dunno…7-1. Take that, Colorado!

  15. RSL is deeper and more talented. Saturday gives them a chance to prove that they have the guts to go along with their superior roster. It will be an intense and hard fought match to say the least. The playoffs for all intents and purposes start tonight.

  16. Salt Lake gets a stadium and now they hate on someone else? Weak. Is it because down deep they hate themselves? Have a 3.2 beer and relax. They call it revenge and it is best served cold. Get bent Fan Man.

  17. Remember RSL went to the Dick last year *(i think) and beat Colorado to deny them entry into the playoffs and took the Rocky Mountain Cup. Chance of a cdouble payback on that for COlorado to deny RSl their first playoff appearance.

  18. A little smack down, this is great..

    FSL and Crapids why even try, just pack you bags and go home, we all know its the going to be the black and gold holding up the trophy..

  19. The fan man exclaims, “get ready to crap your pants!” These are the proud fans of Fake Salt Lake, still rigorously working towards their GED while also finding the time to embarrass themselves on message boards. Colorado wins and the FSL fans go back to the teachings of Joseph Smith. Out.

  20. The real travesty here is that the game is an HDnet exclusive. I was really looking forward to this game, played in a brand new, sold out stadium with so much on the line.

  21. real is going to win this match. the crapids will hopefully not be gifted any penalties. thus taking away any chance for them to score. prepare yourselfs crapids fans for a real invasion this weekend. the real fans are comin in to take over your sorry excuse for a stadium. so get ready to crap your pants!!!! RSL

  22. I will be at the match on Saturday rooting my heart out for the Rapids. Since Pablo will be leaving for Italy after this season, Colorado needs to make the playoffs and also give newcomer of the year Tom McManus some experience of MLS Cup playoffs. RSL has been tough this year and as a Rapid fan, I am very pleased to see that they opened their own SSL in Rio Tinto Stadium. GO COLORADO RAPIDS!!!!!

  23. I’m really pulling for Real. Kreis has done a tremendous job of moulding this unit into a team that is hard to play against. They key for Colorado is keeping Morales quiet. But Kreis has done a far better job as manager then Ellinger was in 3 years.

  24. I think Colorado wins and then takes that momentum to Chivas before losing to Houston…but I definitely wouldn’t put any money on that prophecy.


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