Real Salt Lake-Rapids Preview

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Colorado Rapids head coach Robin Fraser insists his side are taking each game as it comes as they invite Real Salt Lake to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The hosts are fourth in the Western Conference after a four-game unbeaten run and, with two games in hand, they could be eying Seattle Sounders in top spot.

The Rapids have blasted five goals in the last two games, beating third-placed LA Galaxy 2-1 most recently, though Fraser wants to take this term one game at a time.

“There’s a lot of good teams in this league and there’s a lot of season left,” Fraser responded when asked whether his side had made a statement against the Galaxy.

“We just have to keep playing well and doing our own thing.

“Whether we play well or poorly, whether things go our way or against us, the (players) never stop fighting.

“I love the fact that we have a group of players that everything we ask them to do, they do to the best of their ability – they just dig in.”

Salt Lake have won back-to-back fixtures for the first time since the opening two games of the campaign and sit in fifth, seven points behind their opponents.

A victory on the road may be unlikely, however, given they have collected just eight points in such fixtures this season, but head coach Freddy Juarez will be looking for another fighting performance from his side.

“So happy for the guys, the mentality of our whole roster is brilliant,” Juarez said after defeating Houston Dynamo 2-1.

“It wasn’t pretty, I thought we started the game well, the next 20 minutes I wasn’t happy, but they ground it out and found a way to get the job done.”

Juarez will be hoping his men can get the “job done” once more and repeat a 3-0 crushing of the Rapids that they produced in the reverse fixture.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colorado Rapids – William Yarbrough

William Yarbrough has been an unsung hero for the Rapids, who have conceded just 18 goals all season. He made five stops last time out, including a wonderful point-blank save and is quickly becoming one of the most underrated stoppers in MLS.

Real Salt Lake – Anderson Julio

Anderson Julio netted the game-winning goal in the 88th minute against the Dynamo, his fourth of the season. His performance granted him a place in MLS Team of the Week 20 and only Rubio Rubin (five) and Damir Kreilach (eight) have scored more than him this term.

KEY OPTA FACTS

·Real Salt Lake has dominated the Rocky Mountain Cup, winning six of the last seven meetings, including a 3-0 win at home on July 24. RSL has won the last three meetings between the teams in Colorado after having never won consecutive visits to Colorado before.

·The Rapids are unbeaten in eight straight home matches (W5 D3). Colorado last went longer without defeat at home during an 18-match streak from the start of the 2016 season into the playoffs (W12 D6).

·Real Salt Lake has won consecutive matches for the first time since the first two matches of the season. RSL hasn’t won three straight matches since September-October 2019, including a playoff match against Portland.

·Jonathan Lewis scored Colorado’s first goal against the Galaxy on Tuesday from the penalty spot. It was the Rapids first penalty goal in nearly two years, since Nicolás Mezquida scored from the spot, also against the Galaxy, in September 2019.

·Real Salt Lake has recorded an assist on 25 of 26 non-penalty goals this season (excluding own goals), including the last ten in a row. Anderson Julio’s 94th-minute goal against Vancouver on July 7 is the only non-penalty goal RSL has scored this season that hasn’t been assisted.

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