This is it, guys. The big one. Game One of the quest to reclaim the Rocky Mountain Cup. Rapids take on Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto this Saturday, and in an analysis based purely on gut instinct, I think this year is the Rapids’ year. The boys in burgundy want the Cup back badly, and the fans want it even more. In an analysis based more on performance than gut instinct, I think the Rapids are evolving into the kind of squad that can take three points from RSL on their home turf.
In last week’s home win against Chicago, Rapids fans got their first real glimpse of what Oscar Pareja is trying to mold the team into, and it looks very promising. With Captain Pablo Mastroeni out for an estimated six weeks to recover from his most recent concussion (between you and me, I don’t think he’s coming back from this one), and new signing Jaime Castrillon finally available to play after weeks of stalled paperwork, the Rapids’ midfield really started to mesh against Chicago. If the Rapids can continue to build on this momentum, I think they’ve got a promising season ahead of them. But first…Real Salt Lake.
I fully anticipate the same starting lineup as last week, but as the bugs are getting worked out of the new system, there could be changes. If the lineup is unchanged, we’ll see Matt Pickens in goal; Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor (hopefully wearing the Captain’s band again, he deserves it), and Luis Zapata across the back; Jaime Castrillon, Jeff Larentowicz, and Brian Mullan in the mid, with Martin Rivero, Tony Cascio, Omar Cummings up front. Playing Castrillon, an attacking mid, in Pablo’s absence is again a manifestation of Pareja’s intention to bring a more attack-focused game to Colorado, and it’s exciting to watch when things click. Hopefully things will mesh and the Rapids will get the result in Salt Lake. If they don’t, I’m going to have a very, very long drive home.
As always, if you’re not making the trek to Salt Lake, there’s a watch party at the Celtic in LoDo as well as Three Lions. There are also parties in Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs, check out www.nofanalone.com for details. If you have Comcast, YOU CANNOT WATCH THIS MATCH LIVE…so head to the pub and be part of the most intense but least acknowledged rivalry in the MLS. No Fan Alone! Let’s bring home the Cup!
(image courtesy of Garrett Ellwood/Colorado Rapids)