Jason Kreis was asked earlier this week about why Real Salt Lake has enjoyed relative success through the years playing in Colorado.
He was quick to point out the short flight, the fact several RSL players used to play for the Rapids, not to mention the confidence generated from some pretty historically significant results in Colorado through the years.
Despite it all, wins have been very elusive.
In fact, the last time Real Salt Lake walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park victorious, Eddie Pope wore the captain’s arm band and Robbie Findley was just a rookie.
RSL is 0-3-3 in Colorado since that 1-0 victory on Oct. 20, 2007, a winless skid it hopes to snap this Saturday in a 5:30 p.m. kickoff against the Rapids.
Winning this weekend certainly won’t be easy against a pretty desperate Colorado team. Just a month into the season, the Rapids are winless through five matches, and you can bet they’d love to silence the critics with a win over their rivals.
“Always against Colorado it’s a difficult match for us, especially now that they haven’t won,” said RSL midfielder Javier Morales.
Colorado is coming off a 2-2 draw at home against Portland last weekend after squandering a 2-0 second-half lead, with former RSL midfielder Will Johnson tallying both goals for the Timbers.
It was the third time this season the Rapids conceded a costly goal late — something Real Salt Lake certainly benefited from three weeks ago. Trailing 1-0 late in the match, Alvaro Saborio buried an 80th-minute equalizer to help RSL salvage a draw at Rio Tinto Stadium.
That match was certainly on Kreis’ mind as he prepared for the second of three meetings with Colorado this season.
“When we look back at the game we played against them, I think you could say we may have been fortunate not to lose. They had a lot of clear-cut scoring chances on us, and quite a few in the second half, and thankfully (Nick) Rimando stood on his head and kept us with a chance to take a point,” said Kreis.
“We’ve got to really look at that and evaluate that and be critical against ourselves and say ‘how do we play a smarter game against them to not give them so many chances to score.’ ”
The return of Nat Borchers, who missed the first three games of the season because of offseason surgery, should certainly help shore up the backline.
Kreis said Real Salt Lake must be very mindful of Colorado’s formation, too. In the past two games, it has played both a 4-2-3-1 and then with a diamond midfield.
Regardless of the formation, Ned Grabavoy wants to see an aggressive approach similar to last week’s win over Seattle.
“We need to carry some of the things we did last game into this game. I’d like to see us try to be somewhat aggressive on the road a little bit and carry some of the things we did last week into Colorado, even though we’re going to play on the road,” said Grabavoy.
That might be easier said than done with injury question marks up top.
Even though Saborio is expected back in the starting line-up after missing last week’s Seattle win with a sore knee, fellow forward Robbie Findley is out with a strained groin and Joao Plata is questionable with a hamstring strain.
If RSL continues the trend of pairing a big body with a speed forward up top, rookie Olmes Garcia is a good bet to make his MLS starting debut.