The Rocky Mountain Cup may not have been in the books for the Colorado Rapids this year, but they still managed to break a handful of streaks with their 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Not only did they prevent themselves from losing what would have been a franchise record seven straight games, but they also kept their first shutout in a while and, of course, got their first points since June.
Did we mention that the Rapids also ended a very long standing streak without wins against their Rocky Mountain Rivals? Yeah, they did that as well by getting their first three point performance against Salt Lake since way back in 2009. (They still have to nick that little issue they have with playing at Rio Tinto, but that's a story for another season at this point.)
Salt Lake started the game missing a few key players, with Jamison Olave out of the match and Fabian Espindola on the bench. Fabi being on the bench meant that Justin Braun was to get his first ever start with RSL, and he did not particularly impress in his debut.
RSL seemed off their game right from the opening whistle, with Colorado immediately snatching possession and never letting go of it. Neither team did anything on offense early on, except for a couple of chances from Joseph Nane. Starting yet another game in the holding midfielder position, Colorado's large possession total allowed him do what Oscar Pareja loves to see his midfielders do -- go forward early and often.
Nane finally got his first ever MLS goal in the 38th minute. Earlier, when a terrible backheel in the 18 yard box by Kyle Beckerman left him wide open at the edge of the area, Nane hit the bar. Nane smashed it again into the crossbar off a deflection in the 38th, but the underside of it this time. It was more than enough to keep it in the net when it bounced back down.
The scoring may have ended at that point, but the chances continued to flow for the Rapids, once again showing that when they play on their game in Pareja's system of play they can play some wonderful soccer. It looked like a reverse version of the last RSL-Rapids game on the stat sheet in the end: 16-4 chances in favor of the Rapids. For Salt Lake, they kept getting bit by an offside bug and their final balls were just inches off seemingly every time. (Guess playing the Rapids so often brushed off on them!)
There were plenty of promising performances put on by the Rapids players during the match, stuff we'd gotten hints of in July but never saw bloom. Omar Cummings had his best game in ages with a brilliant second half performance. Wells Thompson was again playing wonderfully as a holding central midfielder, and other than a few early mishaps on set pieces the Rapids never looked like they would concede.
So, the last time the Rapids lost six straight games and then started winning again? 1997, when they made a late run to the MLS Cup finals. Why not, eh?
MAN OF THE MATCH: Joseph Nane didn't just score the goal, but he had some of the best chances that the team put together in the first half. Kudos to Nane for finding skill we never knew he had under Oscar Pareja.
GOAT OF THE MATCH: The game was well played enough that there really was no real 'goat' to speak of.