Real Salt Lake headed down to Colorado to play their heated rivals, the Rapids, for the third and final time to see who would win the Rocky Mountain Cup. It was a must win game for RSL who had been winners of the cup for the past 6 years. The two teams had played to a 1-1 draw the first game of the year, and Colorado won 1-0 in the second. To tie the aggregate and bring home the cup, RSL had to win.
They got off to a flying start! RSL captain, Kyle Beckerman, sent a beautiful cross into Ned Grabavoy who was unmarked at the far post and had an easy tap in in the second minute! It didn’t take Colorado long to equalize, however. The make-shift RSL defense had a communication issue and Deshorn Brown was able to slip in between the two center backs and poke it past Nick Rimando. 1-1.
In the 20th minute, RSL forward Robbie Findley earned a penalty kick. Alvaro Saborio stepped up to take it, but the ref blew his whistle to break for a weather delay. There had been tornado warnings throughout Colorado, and lightning had struck within 6 miles of the stadium. The delay lasted 62 minutes, leaving Colorado’s Goalkeeper, Clint Irwin, time to watch tape of every penalty kick Saborio had ever taken. After the teams both entered the field, Alvaro Saborio made no mistake and easily put it past Irwin. 2-1 RSL.
With the most important game of the month on Wednesday in the USOC, Javier Morales was taken out of the game due to adductor tightness, but we later found out it was precautionary. That unfortunately changed RSL’s attack. Luis Gil did a good job filling in for Morales, but the attack seemed almost lifeless at times.
The equalizer for the Rapids came in the 70th minute when Jamie Castrillon headed in a Chris Klute cross. RSL were lucky to come away from the game with a tie. Nick Rimando came up huge for the team, and had multiple reaction and goal line saves.
The game ended in a 2-2 draw, and Colorado kept the cup. But that’s alright. It just rejuvenates the rivalry and actually makes it interesting for next year.
RSL will play the Portland Timbers on wednesday in the USOC semi finals. The winner of the match up will get to host the final.