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Rapids-Real Salt Lake Preview
Robin Fraser forecasts a fiercely contested Rocky Mountain Cup clash between the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake but wants his players to keep their focus on a playoff place.
The Rapids enter this weekend's game third in the Western Conference, in an extremely strong position 12 points ahead of rivals RSL.
RSL are only two places back in fifth, though, themselves right in the thick of a playoff race.
As Colorado close on qualification, there is plenty for both teams to play for, Rapids coach Fraser acknowledges.
"It's a huge task to go there and beat them knowing that the Rocky Mountain Cup is on the line and knowing that they're trying to get into the playoffs and secure a playoff spot, as are we," Fraser said.
"There are a lot of emotions going into this game. You expect it to be a pretty tense affair.
"At the end of the day we need to play well, we need to continue to improve in both areas of the field, offensive and defensive, and we need to get a result.
"At the end of the day, we don't ever want to lose track of what the big goal is and the steps to get to the big goal involve becoming better week in and week out."
RSL come into this game still without a permanent head coach after Freddy Juarez left to join up with the Seattle Sounders as an assistant.
Pablo Mastroeni, formerly of Colorado, is serving as interim, although general Elliot Fall insisted earlier this month the club were making progress in their search for a permanent hire.
Mastroeni could yet be that man, as Fell said: "Pablo's a leader. He's an honest, genuine leader. He's passionate. He loves the group, he loves the players, he loves to lead them, and I think he's really having a lot of fun.
"I also think it's important to note: the way things go week-in and week-out aren't the only things in the conversation."
Real Salt Lake - Damir Kreilach
Kreilach's goal against Austin last time out made this his best scoring season in MLS, and he does not look like slowing. The midfielder has netted in four consecutive games and has six goal involvements in six.
Colorado Rapids - Cole Bassett
Bassett reportedly turned down a move to Benfica in August and continues to grow as a player with Colorado. Just 20, he has had a big impact in the team's past two wins, with an assist in one victory and a goal last time out, against Minnesota United, in the other.
- The Rapids have won two of the past three Rocky Mountain Cup matches, including a 2-1 win in Salt Lake on August 21, the last time the sides met. Colorado last won two straight matches against RSL in MLS competition in September 2006 and April 2007.
- Real Salt Lake have won six straight home matches, equaling the longest home winning streak in team history (also March to June 2018 and August to October 2014). A victory would equal the longest home winning streak of the season in MLS, a seven-game run by New York City FC in June to August.
- Colorado saw Danny Wilson sent off when they trailed 1-0 before coming back to win 3-1 at Minnesota last time out. The Rapids became the first team to come back to win after going down a man while trailing in a game since the Red Bulls against New England in August 2014.
- Kreilach has tied a Real Salt Lake club record by scoring in four straight matches. Kreilach is the fourth RSL player to score in four straight appearances after Luis Silva (2017), Alvaro Saborio (2014) and Jeff Cunningham (2006).
- Despite playing more than 30 minutes with 10 men, Colorado hit 12 shots on target in their win over Minnesota on Sunday. It was the most shots on target the Rapids have managed in an away match in over 10 years, since hitting 12 shots on target in a 2-2 draw at FC Dallas in October 2010.
Updated October 15, 2021