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Game 11: The battle for the Rocky Mountain Cup begins

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MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ugh.

To any Colorado Rapids fan, there is one team whose very name brings up acidic bile. Three letters that spell pure anger, vitriol, and regret. Three letters that bring about the devil himself. Three letters which may cause constipation, nausea, and even bloating. Of course, that team is up next. That team is RSL.

The Rocky Mountain Cup means a lot to this team’s fans (read about the history of the RMC here). Put lightly, the direction that these first 10 games have gone in doesn’t necessarily give us a lot of faith against one of only two matches that are genuinely important the rest of the season. Real Salt Lake has kept the RMC in enemy territory since 2015.

Over Salt Lake’s 10 games, they’ve gotten 10 points. They opened the season with a draw, and since then they’ve gotten three wins and six losses. They earned a big win over Cincinnati on the road, but that one game aside, they haven’t looked particularly outstanding. Twelve goals for, 18 goals allowed. Even San Jose is doing better than they are right now.

Unlike most of the teams the Rapids have played against so far, RSL is pretty much stuck with their lineup, a 4-2-3-1 that has had very few changes all season. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando has been injured and was listed as ‘questionable’ last week, so in his place they’ve been playing Andrew Putna. Not sure yet who we’ll see between the sticks Saturday, but if Rimando is healthy, I’d expect him to play. Homegrown player Donny Toia, England international Nedum Onuoha, homegrown player Justen Glad, and homegrown player Aaron Herrera are nearly guaranteed to be holding down the back line. Damir Kreilach and the Dreadlocked Devil, Kyle Beckerman, are their defensive mids. Offensive midfielders are DP Jefferson Savarino, DP Albert Rusnak, homegrown Corey Baird, and their striker is DP Sam Johnson.

See a big trend here? Yeah, of the 11 players on the field, three are designated players and four are homegrown players. That doesn’t even factor in that they have a whopping twelve homegrown players on their roster. This is a team that’s got a lot talent on the development path, while still playing a solid roster.

And, unfortunately, that brings me to the elephant in the room. A game that I never want to think about again, but find at the forefront of my mind way too much. Last season, RSL came to our house, and gave us the ultimate bloody nose—a 0-6 defeat with two red cards. A historic loss that is pretty much unrivaled in the history of the Rapids. Unfortunately, there’s a decent chance that we’ll not get a chance to return the favor anytime soon. This week, the Rapids have been busy trying to bring in defensive reinforcements and a young winger, but Conor Casey still hasn’t had much time to get this team to play in his way, and that’s made all the worse with the roster changes.

Our Burgundy Boys have been beaten down hardcore. It’s been a rough 10 games to open the season. But it’s time for revenge.