The Colorado Rapids came into tonight looking for a win to clinch themselves a playoff spot and ideally take back the Rocky Mountain Cup for the first time in what's now going on five years. They didn't accomplish either goal as the game against Real Salt Lake ended 0-0, but at the very least escaped with a point and didn't allow Salt Lake to score in stoppage time for the first time in three games against them.
Small victories for sure, but it's all that Colorado have to work with after looking listless once again against their arch-rivals.
This game was ruled by defensive mettle from both sides. Despite missing Kyle Beckerman due to suspension, Salt Lake was able to take the midfield weaknesses in stride by shutting down the Rapids forwards by the time they got to the final third. Toward the beginning of the game it looked like an offensive showdown might commence with a lot of shots going toward the goal - not AT the goal, mind you - for both teams.
The defensive effort stepped up shortly after the 20 minute mark as the shots started to sharply decrease. In fact, it took until a Wells Thompson effort from 18 out in the 45th minute before either team recorded a shot on goal, the first of only a scant few for the Rapids.
After Sanna Nyassi and Omar Cummings were removed from the match in favor of Caleb Folan and then eventually Macoumba Kandji, the offense began to open up with the best chances that the Rapids would see all game. The closest to a goal that either team came on the night was when Folan snagged a header on a late corner kick in the 84th minute which sneaked underneath the crossbar but somehow managed to bounce out on the wrong side of the byline. This was shortly after another Folan chance was stopped on the line by Nick Rimando.
In better news, Ricardo Salazar didn't have a bad game refereeing, something that we don't usually expect from him especially considering some other games between Colorado and Salt Lake he's done in the past. There was a Sanna Nyassi tumble in the box that went uncalled and a couple of fouls that seemed innocuous on both sides, but otherwise was very easy going and unobtrusive.
With Colorado's penchant for letting in goals in stoppage time against Salt Lake, it seemed dangerous when the fourth official held up three minutes on his board. Fortunately, almost all of the stoppage time wound up being taken up by a substitution and a menagerie of throw-ins and the game was over very quickly. Nil-nil wasn't the result either team was looking for but the visiting RSL fans enjoyed their time with the Rocky Mountain Cup after the game was completed, though the mediocre U2 cover band that was playing at halftime and after the game kind of killed the mood a little bit. Either way, an important point for Colorado but not as important as a clinching three points.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Everyone in the back four. Everyone did well this game, holding RSL to an astounding zero shots on goal all game, and the shots they had toward goal were usually quite a ways off. Props to Caleb Folan as well for almost scoring twice in a game filled with missed opportunities.
GOAT OF THE MATCH: Tie between Omar Cummings and Sanna Nyassi. Both forwards looked listless, uninterested and all around terrible today. Another stinker to add to Omar's terrible resume in 2011.