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Rocky Mountain Cup Leg 2: Showdown in Salt Lake

It’s Rivalry Week in MLS and the Rapids are heading to Utah.

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

It’s that time again. That time where you should start making prayers to whatever you find holy. Start up the pagan dances, go to church—whatever it takes. This is the last game of the season where a matters more than anything. Hardware is at stake, as is the ability to flip our rivals a major middle finger.

I previously covered Real Salt Lake here and many of my points from back then still stand. They came to Colorado earlier this season and walked away with a 3-2 win. It was only the second game under Casey’s management, so I don’t want to be too mean but it was pretty indicative of some of the problems the team had back then.

After that, the Colorado Rapids started winning and our offense became a serious thing. Heck, Kei Kamara had a hat trick and we scored six goals in a single game. If the Rapids want any hope for lifting the Rocky Mountain Cup this year, we’ll need to get a win. Victory will be assured by a two-goal differential—something that would have been unheard of earlier in 2019.

RSL has been in a confusing state recently. Most notably, they fired their often foul-mouthed head coach Mike Petke. This seems like more of a PR decision than his coaching style, as RSL is currently in fourth place in the Western Conference. After several fines from MLS and being caught saying some incredibly vulgar things to players and referees alike, RSL decided they have had enough and got rid of him. He has since then sent out the typical non-apology apologies, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is now considered persona non grata in the league. That kind of outburst is difficult to come back from.

Since our match in May, RSL hasn’t been necessarily making waves in the league. They’ve climbed up in the WC rankings, but there is such a small point differential from 7th place to 2nd that it doesn’t really mean much anymore. Five points is less than two wins, so the playoff standings might come down to the wire for seven teams. They brought in only one new player this summer, signing Kelyn Rowe from Sporting Kansas City after he failed to make the impact he was expected to.

Rapids fans will remember that Rowe was involved in the three-way trade in which we sent Edgar Castillo to New England for Rowe, then traded Rowe to SKC for Diego Rubio. Since Rubio is just a single goal away from getting to double-digit goals this season, we are starting to look like the real winners of that deal.

I’m nervous about this game. Very nervous. We’ve started seeing a flaw in the Rapids style of attacking play when they let off the gas too early. We saw this happen against the Houston Dynamo where we went up 2-0 and they ended up tying, which was about the same thing we saw against Vancouver. If there is any single game in the season that we should have the energy and drive to go and score at any point in the game, it should be against RSL on the road.

If the Burgundy Boys play like they did against Montreal, this game should be exciting. I don’t think there is anything that would mean more to this fanbase this season than seeing a huge victory over our bitter enemies or the first time at their home field.

Let’s get ready to welcome the team back to Colorado with a trophy in hand