We all knew that this game meant something. Whether or not the Colorado Rapids or Real Salt Lake are going to make the play-offs, the Rocky Mountain rivalry runs deep. This is a game that both teams usually put in 100%, no matter what. So far this season, the Rapids lost 2-1 to RSL at home on April 15 thanks to a late handball in the box that gave the Salt Lake side a penalty kick. The second game of the 2017 Rocky Mountain Cup was in Rio Tinto, a place where the Rapids (still) have never won.
Both teams had a couple good chances early on. Mekeil Williams got a header on a Shkelzen Gashi corner, but put it just wide, while Albert Rusnak blasted a shot at Tim Howard in the 6th minute. Howard gave up the rebound but got a toe on it while the incoming RSL player was called offside.
Salt Lake was able to get a couple shots in quick succession in the 16th and 17th minutes and the Utah side also earned three corners in three minutes, but nothing came of it. RSL really shut down the Rapids for the next 10 minutes, and were able to get several dangerous passes into the box.
We continuously saw Dominique Badji stranded up top, players not running into space, and no one stepping up to the ball. They might have put out the lineup like it was a 4-3-3 but it looked an awful lot like a 4-2-3-1 that wasn’t working very well.
The Rapids did get a little bit of solid movement later in the half, with a great give-n-go between Marlon Hairston and Gashi, but Rusnak looked dangerous all half, with SIX SHOTS AND THREE ON GOAL. He was continuously given space to run and shoot, and Axel Sjoberg saved the last shot off the line.
Eric Miller had a decent chance off a free kick from a foul in the 37th minute, but he hit the post.
In the 41st minute, Mohammed Saeid gave up the ball in the midfield, and it got to Joao Plata. He dribbled in, and Miller was on him to cut down the angle. Plata took the shot and beat Howard near post to put RSL up 1-0 right before the half.
Rapids interim head coach Steve Cooke started the second half with a sub, putting in Micheal Azira for Nana Boateng. Luis Gil got a shot within the first couple minutes that rebounded back out, but there was no one following it in.
Mekeil Williams tugged down Jefferson Savarino in the box and gave RSL a penalty kick. Luis Silva took the shot, Howard guessed the wrong way, and Salt Lake went up 2-0. It wasn’t looking good.
The Rapids were given a chance in the 57th minute when Danilo Acosta came in on Hairston with an unnecessary and late tackle. Acosta was given a straight red and was sent off, putting his team down to 10 men.
Soon after, Colorado brought in Josh Gatt and Alan Gordon for Saeid and Gil, respectively. The team was able to control the ball better, but still weren’t getting shots off.
Gordon managed to get two yellows within four minutes of each other (he basically took down Glad to get the second yellow) and got sent off in the 77th minute, getting rid of the Rapids’ advantage and taking both teams to 10 men.
Gatt scored in the 82nd minute, but was called back for offside. The ref called for VAR, and the goal was awarded to the Rapids.
Just two minutes into stoppage time, Silva got behind the centerbacks and Howard got hosed near post again to put RSL up 3-1. Brooks Lennon also got on the scoreboard, putting in a very late goal for a final score of 4-1.
The Rapids have now lost three games in a row since firing head coach Pablo Mastroeni.