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Downstream Game 29: Away vs Real Salt Lake

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

Real Sale Lake Stats

2021 Record: 11-11-6 WLT, 39 points for 1.39 PPG

Goals: 45 for, 44 allowed, +1 differential

Power Rankings: MIN #16 (-), Rapids #7 (-2)

Last Result: 2-1 loss against Austin

The Rocky Mountain Cup comes down to this.

I don’t even care about any specific game the rest of the season. We’re all but guaranteed a playoff spot right now. A win against RSL does guarantee us a spot. We have a healthy 12 point lead over RSL and the Galaxy, and a five point lead over Portland. This match, this one match, will mean more than any of the others. Perhaps even more than the rest combined.

RSL is a good team, as much as we might disagree. They’re currently in a very close fight for a playoff spot, currently sitting in fifth but are only two points ahead of eighth. But despite that, they’re in a strange position as a team. The owner is trying to sell, and ex-Rapids player and head coach Pablo Mastroeni was named as interim head coach. They’ve had a mix of big wins, and some absolute blowout losses. They lost to newcomers Austin FC, and two games prior to that they lost to the Portland Timbers by an astonishing 6-1. Since Freddy Juarez left to join Seattle as an assistant coach, they’ve gone for 4 wins and 4 losses. Looks like they are due for another loss.

We can get the Cup again for another year. If we win, we get it. It stays with the good guys, and the sun will continue to shine on glorious Colorado. If we do anything else, meaning a tie or a loss regardless of goal differential, it goes into RSL’s slimy, disgusting, 3.2% beer-covered mittens. An era of darkness will overtake the land and happiness shall become a myth. Not a pretty picture.

Winning in Rio Tinto is difficult, but not impossible. Last year, we were in a bad spot going there to close out the RMC, and we pulled off one of the greatest Rapids matches in history, one that is the easy highlight for the boys in burgundy. A 5-0 win is just flat-out incredible. More so when we had hardware on the line. The good thing is, fundamentally, that team is still there. The team that can go into enemy territory and overcome the insane odds to not only win but by a large enough margin to get a cup, is the team we need - and we saw that team last weekend go into enemy territory, go a man down, and still score three unanswered goals to get the win. That is the team that we need to see against Salt Lake.

No mercy. No going easy. The Rapids should be getting Acosta and Kaye back from international duty, both of whom had fairly light appearances and should be available for the game. We’ve had a week of rest and preparation. Even if it means going easier against Seattle and seeing some rotation in the starting XI, this is maybe the last individual game that means something.

Let’s do this.