Rapids-Real Salt Lake Preview

It’s been nine seasons since the Colorado Rapids opened with three straight victories.

They have the option to do it again when they return to action in the “MLS is Back Tournament” on Sunday night against Real Salt Lake outside Orlando, Fla.

Colorado (2-0-0) needed 12 games to win its first MLS match of the 2019 season. Now, despite the interruption of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rapids are in a much better place and have a chance to start 3-0-0 for the first time since 2011.

While the state of this tournament amid the “bubble” of the Wide World of Sports Complex still seems uncertain and extremely fluid, there remains plenty of on-field optimism in the Colorado camp about going forward.

“I think they’re excited to be playing,” coach Robin Fraser told the Rapids’ official website. “We’ve only been playing against each other for a couple of months now. I think they’re excited to get here and actually be in real competition.

“Any opportunity to play is an opportunity to play well.”

Colorado has played relatively well by posting matching 2-1 victories over D.C. United and Orlando City. Four different players have scored for the Rapids, including veteran Kei Kamara and budding star Jonathan Lewis.

However, the Rapids are mired in a three-game losing streak against Real Salt Lake and been outscored 16-4 during an 0-4-1 stretch during the series since winning 1-0 in October 2017.

Salt Lake (0-0-2) can make the claim that it’s undefeated, but it will try again to win for the first time in 2020. Following a scoreless draw at Orlando City, RSL needed a stoppage-time equalizer from Damir Kreilach to earn a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls.

As it stands, the consensus seems that RSL is a serious underdog within Group D of this tournament. Especially with an improved Sporting Kansas City squad and talented Minnesota United FC also in the group. That does not seem to be a program for coach Freddy Juarez and his blue-collar club.

“We’ve got to be tough as nails. That’s what makes me proud of the guys everyday in training,” Juarez told the official website of MLS. “That’s who RSL is, that’s the mentality and that’s the mentality I want my players to have. It’s all done with head down, work hard, enjoy beating teams. “Our bread and butter, who we are, our culture, is punching above our weight, working extremely hard and being humble about it.”