SANDY, UT (August 27, 2017) – Real Salt Lake got another big win at home last night over the Colorado Rapids, securing the 2017 Rocky Mountain Cup. The Claret and Cobalt won the match 4-1 that ended with both teams playing with ten men. RSL are now 5-1-3 since July 1st.
Salt Lake Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Nick Rimando(C) — Tony Beltran, David Horst, Justen Glad, Danilo Acosta — Sunny Stephen, Luke Mulholland — Jefferson Savarino, Albert Rusnák, Joao Plata — Luis Silva
Colorado Starting XI (4-3-3): Tim Howard(C) — Marlon Hairston, Eric Miller, Axel Sjoberg, Mekeil Williams — Mohammed Saeid, Bismark Boateng, Luis Gil — Shkelzen Gashi, Dominique Badji, Kevin Doyle
RSL Wins 2017 Rocky Mountain Cup Off 4-1 Win Over Colorado Rapids
Salt Lake came out swinging in the first half. They controlled the ball for most of the game, with Rusnák getting chances at the top of the box and Plata creating danger from the wing. Colorado had trouble marking both of them, but looked to create from set pieces and counter attacks.
Just six minutes in, Silva appeared to put his team in front, scoring on a rebound given up by Howard on a shot from Rusnák. The goal was ruled off-sides however.
Their breakthrough came just before halftime. A turnover at midfield led to a counter attack for RSL. Rusnák found Plata on a long ball that created a 3-on-2. Plata blew by the the defenders and fired a shot underneath Howard and into the back of the net. The half ended 1-0.
Defending 1v1 by full backs has been a weakness for the Rapids all season. It came back to haunt them at the beginning of the first half. Williams stepped in front of Savarino inside the box, sending him to ground. It was a stone cold PK. Forward Luis Silva took the kick and beat Howard at the top corner, sending him the wrong way. RSL was off and running 2-0.
Colorado was in danger of losing the Rocky Mountain Cup (and a third straight league game), when they were given a lifeline. In the 57th minute, Danilo Acosta was given a straight red card for a studs up stomp on Marlon Hairston with the ball long gone. Hairston appeared to be ok and the Rapids pushed forward up a man.
Colorado had trouble creating anything dangerous. Their build up play was slopping and the speed from RSL’s wing players kept several midfielders from getting forward in the attack. Their frustration came to a head in the 77th minute when substitute Alan Gordon was sent off after just nine minutes on the field. He close lined Glad going up for a header and was given a second yellow card (the first being for dissent).
With both teams down to 10 men, Colorado found some space to work. In the 82nd minute after some good build up play, Michael Azira sent a hopeful cross towards goal. Joshua Gatt attacked the ball, sending it down and past Rimando. The goal was initially ruled off-sides, but Video Assisted Replay overturned the call, making it 2-1.
The Rapids threw numbers forward trying to get an equalizer and it cost them. In the second minute of stoppage time, Brooks Lennon cleared the ball up field. It found Silva in stride, who blazed past the last two defenders and scored on a breakaway.
Lennon added a goal at the end of stoppage time on a 2-on-1. It was an easy tap in and the match ended 4-1.
After a 2-1 victory in Colorado earlier this year, Real Salt Lake have claimed the 2017 Rocky Mountain Cup outright. These teams will meet one final time the second to last weekend of the season in Colorado, but it will have no effect on the trophy. RSL are now just one point below the red line. They have now won the Rocky Mountain Cup every year since 2009.
41′ Salt Lake – Joao Plata, assisted by Albert Rusnák
50′ Salt Lake – Luis Silva (PK)
82′ Colorado – Joshua Gatt, assisted by Michael Azira
90’+2′ Salt Lake – Luis Silva, assisted by Brooks Lennon
90’+6′ Salt Lake – Brooks Lennon, assisted by Sebastián Saucedo, Luke Mulholland
As previously stated, Salt Lake are now 5-1-3 since the start of July. That one loss was in Montreal to a non-conference opponent. Their defense is finally healthy and playing well. Rusnák has been just what they’ve needed and Plata is putting up points no matter where he plays or who he’s next to. The Rocky Mountain Cup is already a victory considering the season they’ve had. While they’ve played more games then every team above them in the table, they’re just one point out of the playoffs. And they’re peaking at the right time.
The Colorado Rapids have not won a game since July 1. They’ve now lost 10 of 12 road games in league play this year. They’ve lost all three games since making a coaching change. The midfielders aren’t contributing enough on either side of the ball. Other than Dominique Badji, none of the forwards play with urgency. The play at fullback has been poor at best. There’s only so much Tim Howard and Axel Sjoberg can do. This team has struggled all year. They’re still struggling. It’s unclear if or how they’ll fix this, even with playoffs approaching Leicester City odds.