MLS

Real Salt Lake v Colorado Rapids: Armas targets Rocky Mountain Cup

By Sports Desk May 17, 2024

Chris Armas is desperate to claim early-season silverware in the form of the Rocky Mountain Cup as the Colorado Rapids prepare to visit rivals Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

The Rapids are flying high in fourth in the Western Conference standings, four points adrift of top side RSL after 13 matches.

They should approach Saturday's derby in good spirits after their 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in midweek, while they have already beaten RSL once this season – by a 2-1 scoreline on the road in early March.

"I wish we were hosting this one, the Rocky Mountain Cup is such an important thing to us and to our fans," Armas said.

"It'd be nice if we maybe played one at home and one on the road. Two on the road is tricky but it is what it is.

"We have the slight edge at the moment but we have work to do, to go there and get the trophy. You can go through an entire season and not play for a trophy, and now we are."

RSL boss Pablo Mastroeni represented Colorado for 11 years of his playing career then coached them for three years upon his retirement, but he feels he has come a long way since then.

"I think the biggest thing is my evolution as a person. When I first got into coaching, I'd just finished my career and threw myself into the deep waters," Mastroeni said. 

"Over time you understand your game model and the way you want to play the game. These things take time, and it's really broadened my perspective." 

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Real Salt Lake – Andres Gomez 

Gomez scored his fifth goal of the season in Real Salt Lake's 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday. 

He and Cristian Arango (11) have now combined for 16 goals this MLS campaign, the only team-mates to combine for more are Inter Miami's Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez (21).

Colorado Rapids – Rafael Navarro 

Navarro scored the game's only goal in Colorado's win over Vancouver, becoming the first Rapids player since Diego Rubio in 2022 to score in three straight regular-season matches. 

The only Rapids player in the last 12 years to score in four straight league games was Kei Kamara in 2019.

MATCH PREDICTION – REAL SALT LAKE WIN

The Rapids ended a seven-match losing streak in the Rocky Mountain Cup (two draws, five defeats) with a 2-1 victory at Real Salt Lake on March 9. 

However, they haven't won two in a row against RSL since a pair of victories in September 2006 and April 2007.

Real Salt Lake have won three of their last four home matches, drawing the other and keeping clean sheets in all of those games. The Rapids are the only visiting team to win at America First Field this year, but RSL may just get their revenge this weekend.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Real Salt Lake – 49.2%

Colorado Rapids – 23.3%

Draw – 27.5%

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    Houston could become just the second team in MLS history to play out four draws in a row while scoring more than once in every game, but they will be hopeful of going one better with a win.

    D.C. have lost five of their last seven matches (two draws), including their last two in a row.

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    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

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    Houston Dynamo – 40.5%

    Draw – 25.7%

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