Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids will continue their quest for the 2014 Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday, with the Claret-and-Cobalt heading to Colorado to face the Rapids at 7:00 p.m. MT at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of the match:
RSL looks to recapture Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday
Real Salt Lake can recapture the Rocky Mountain Cup with a victory on Saturday after the Claret-and-Cobalt defeated Colorado in their first meeting this year, topping the Rapids 2-1 on May 17 at Rio Tinto Stadium. A win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will secure the trophy for the seventh time in Real Salt Lake history. RSL lost the RMC last year for the first time since 2006, going 0-1-2 against the Rapids in 2013.
First Colorado meeting of 2014 for Beckerman and Rimando
Saturday’s match will be RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s first encounter with Colorado this year. The U.S. internationals missed the clubs’ first clash after departing for pre-World Cup training camp in May. Saturday’s match in Colorado will be the U.S. duo’s sixth-straight match back with the Claret-and-Cobalt after returning from the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
This weekend’s match will also be the first time Beckerman will face former teammate Pablo Mastroeni as Colorado’s head coach. Beckerman and Mastoeini were teammates at Colorado, where the RSL Captain spent five and a half years from 2002-07 before joining the Claret-and-Cobalt. Mastroeni was given the top job at Colorado in March of 2014.
Saturday will also (again) provide RSL’s longest-tenured player, Rimando with the opportunity to tie the all-time MLS shutout record. The 35-year-old goalkeeper has 111 shutouts, one clean sheet shy of retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman who holds the record at 112.
RSL looking for first win in Colorado since 2007
Real Salt Lake will be looking to earn its first win in Colorado since 2007 on Saturday night. The Claret-and-Cobalt’s last victory in the Centennial State came on Oct. 20, 2007, when forward Robbie Findley scored a late game-winner to give RSL its first Rocky Mountain Cup and keep the Rapids out of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Since then RSL has gone 0-4-4 in Colorado during the regular season.
Real Salt Lake’s performance this week will determine the possibility of roster movements
Real Salt Lake will close out its three-game homestand on Wednesday v. NY and then travel to Colorado to take on the Rapids on Saturday, in what will be one of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s most critical weeks this year. RSL GM Garth Lagerwey has said that RSL’s performances against NY and Colorado will determine if the club will look to make any roster moves before the transfer window closes on Aug. 6. With RSL’s all-time leading scorer forward Alvaro Saborio out with a broken foot, and international absences throughout the month on June, the Claret-and-Cobalt has struggled in front of net. RSL has gone 2-4-3 in its last nine matches, four of which RSL has been shutout.
RSL’s offense gained some life last week against Montreal, with substitute forward Olmes Garcia notching a brace for his first goals of 2014 and his first in over a year. Garcia was the first forward other than Saborio and Joao Plata to find the back of the net this year.
If the Claret-and-Cobalt can continue to tally the goals and get positive results this week, then the roster will most likely remain untouched. Lagerwey emphasized that the priority is to keep the well-cultivated Real Salt Lake locker room unchanged, but how RSL plays this week might affect how the club plans to head into the final stretch of the 2014 season.
Former RSL defender Jamison Olave returns to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time
Former Real Salt Lake defender Jamison Olave will make his return to Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night for the first time since being traded to the New York Red Bulls at the end of 2012. The Colombian was traded along with fellow fan favorites midfielder Will Johnson and forward Fabian Espindola in a move triggered by salary cap restraints. Olave spent five years with the Claret-and-Cobalt, including winning MLS Cup in 2009, and became one of the principal figures of the club.
One of the best defenders in the league, Olave met his former club last year for the first time since being traded at Red Bull Arena on July 27, 2013 – a heartbreaking 4-3 loss for the Claret-and-Cobalt. RSL will be looking to enact revenge on Wednesday night, but the club and fans will surely have a warm welcome for the former RSL-man.
RSL looks to stay undefeated against New York Red Bulls at home
Real Salt Lake has been quite successful against New York when playing at home in Utah, going undefeated against the Red Bulls in the Beehive state with a 4-0-4 record. RSL is also currently riding a four-game win streak against NY at home, all of which have been shutouts at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Claret-and-Cobalt recorded a 2-0 victory on Oct. 14, 2009, a 1-0 win on Sept. 4, 2010, a 3-0 victory on Aug. 6, 2011 and a 2-0 win in the clubs’ last meeting at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 17, 2012.
Nick Rimando in pursuit of the all-time MLS shutout record
Real Salt Lake veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando is one clean sheet away from tying retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS shutout record with 112. If the 35-year-old ties the record this weekend, Rimando will have as many cleans sheets as Hartman in 57-less games. Hartman achieved 112 shutouts through 416 games played; Rimando has currently played 358 MLS regular season games. The California native will likely surpass the record this year, with 14 MLS matches left to play in the 2014 regular season.
Will Wednesday’s game be Thierry Henry’s last match in Utah?
Wednesday’s matchup at Rio Tinto Stadium might be New York Red Bulls star and former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry’s last trip to Utah. The former French international is out of contract with New York at the end of the year and his uncertain future is the current talk of the town. Red Bulls head of global soccer, Gerard Houllier, remarked earlier this week that he thinks the 37-year-old will retire at the end of the season. No one knows for sure what lies ahead for Henry, but the high-profile striker’s influence on the league has been paramount – both on the field and off.
Henry has always held RSL with high regard, praising the Claret-and-Cobalt’s style of play on multiple occasions. If it is in fact his last match at Rio Tinto Stadium, let’s hope it’s a good one – with Real Salt Lake validating his admiration of course.
It won’t be hard for RSL fans to remember the last time the Claret-and-Cobalt and New York Red Bulls last met – almost a year ago to the day – in one of the most thrilling and heartbreaking matches of 2013. The two sides met at Red Bull Arena on July 27, 2013 with the home side getting off to a perfect start, taking the lead through Australian international MF Tim Cahill in the 11th minute and then doubling its lead after former Red Bulls and RSL FW Fabian Espindola converted from the spot 12 minutes later. Despite being down 2-0 on the road, the Claret-and-Cobalt went on to stage an amazing comeback led by RSL’s all-time leading scorer, FW Alvaro Saborio. The Costa Rican international went on to put in one of his best performances scoring three unanswered goals (45’, 80’, 82’) to give RSL the improbable lead. But RSL was unable to finish out the match, conceding two goals in the 89th and 94th minutes to fall 3-4 on the road.
Unfortunately, RSL will be without Saborio on Wednesday’s rematch due to injury, but last year’s match was a showcase of RSL’s grit, determination and team-wide talent. Let’s hope the Claret-and-Cobalt can put on another show and enact some revenge at home on Wednesday night in a nationally televised match on ESPN 2.
MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Nick Firchau preview tomorrow's Pioneer Day tilt between Real Salt Lake and Montreal Impact. Give the preview a watch above.
The last time Real Salt Lake and Montreal Impact met, RSL suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss at Stade Saputo on May 11, 2013. But now the tables are turned and RSL will be facing the Quebec club on its home turf at Rio Tinto Stadium for the second time ever in its history.
RSL’s loss last year saw Captain Kyle Beckerman put RSL up 2-1 with a 77th minute goal, but the Claret-and-Cobalt couldn’t hold the lead, with Montreal FW Marco Di Vaio equalizing from an offside position in the 80th minute before Impact DF Matteo Ferrari found the winner in the 93rd.
Get pumped for what RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar has called a “must-win” match against Montreal Impact on Thursday!
The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-16’s were unable to win back-to-back championships on Saturday, falling 2-0 to LA Galaxy in the 2013-2014 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Championship match held at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
The Claret-and-Cobalt were unable to stage a comeback after going down in the 28th minute through LA’s Dylan Smith, who tapped in a deflection off of RSL’s goalpost. The Galaxy recorded an insurance goal in the 51st minute when Juan Orozco volleyed home a blast from the top of the 18 yard box.
Real Salt Lake entered Saturday’s final looking to win its second-straight USSDA U-16 Championship title. The defending champs advanced to the final match after putting in a dominant performance in its semifinal game two days earlier - a 5-1 rout of Strikers FC.
Despite the loss and second-place finish on Saturday, the RSL-AZ U-16’s had a fantastic year finishing first in the USSDA Southwest Division and West Conference. The Claret-and-Cobalt also snagged multiple end-of-year conference awards, with RSL’s Sebastian Saucedo winning Player of the Year along with a Forward of the Year honor in the West. Real Salt Lake first-team homegrown signing Justen Glad picked up a Defender of the Year award as well. In the team awards, the entire U-16 squad took home the Style of Play honor.
The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-18 squad was also represented in the conference awards with midfielder Jose Hernandez earning Midfielder of the Year accolades.
In the overall awards, the entire Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy program took home the Best Training Facility honor in the West Conference.
The RSL Family has an opportunity do some good this week as Major League Soccer has announced the finalists for the MLS WORKS Community MVP Contest presented by Wells Fargo. All 19 MLS teams have a Community MVP nominee that will have the chance to be voted the Grand Prize winner by fans. Real Salt Lake’s candidate is Tyler Stockstill, founder of the Utah Development Academy (UDA), a community organization that addresses character development and leadership, healthy lifestyles, and academic excellence through soccer-based programming.
In the past two years Tyler has volunteered an average of 30 hours per week towards establishing UDA with the goal of “equaling the playing field” and providing opportunities for all children, regardless of financial standing, to participate in youth soccer. For more information on Tyler and his organization please visit http://www.udasoccer.org/.
The Grand Prize winner, as voted by the fans, will be awarded a $10,000 donation for the charity of their choice and a trip to the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game in Portland. Fan voting is open now through July 25 on the MLS WORKS web site: www.MLSsoccer.com/CommunityMVP.
Fans may also vote by tweeting: “I vote for the @MLSWORKS @WellsFargo @RealSaltLake #CommunityMVP” from 12 p.m. ET on July 24 through 12 p.m. ET on July 25.
The Grand Prize winner will be announced on Friday, July 25 at 2pm ET via twitter by @MLSWORKS.
Let’s get Tyler to Portland!
MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Nick Firchau take a crack at previewing Saturday's tilt between Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Give the preview a watch above - certainly worth the time.