PREVIEW – Colorado Rapids host Real Salt Lake tomorrow night in the second leg of the 2021 Rocky Mountain Cup. Both teams are in a playoff spot and scrapping despite the lack of respect they might be getting. RSL won the first leg 3-0 on July 24. Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, there’s a second game of a three leg trophy series and a chance to make a statement. With that, here’s my Rocky Mountain Cup preview.
Rocky Mountain Cup Preview: Rapids “owe one” to RSL
RSL had another emphatic win at Rio Tinto Stadium in the first leg. Colorado got their first win ever there last year, winning the RMC for the first time since 2015. That 5-0 win appeared to signal a new direction of that rivalry until the first leg last month.
It was maybe the biggest win of the year for RSL. Colorado had their least characteristic performance of the season. William Yarbrough committed the worst own goal in club history to open the scoring. The Claret and Cobalt were excellent in transition on the other two goals. As the game got worse, the Rapids got frustrated and they let their emotions get the best of them.
“We did not deserve to lose 3-0 when we played at their place, but a couple individual mistakes, including my own, we ended up not having the best result. We’re confident we can play anybody on any given day,” said striker Andre Shinyashiki.
RSL punked their rivals, who in turn beat themselves.
Since then, the Rapids are unbeaten and have won three straight home game. They haven’t been 100% with Diego Rubio and Danny Wilson carrying injuries. Kellyn Acosta also has yet to play his first game since leaving for the Gold Cup due to Health & Safety Protocol. All three players are available for tomorrow.
“We’re confident. We didn’t feel like we should have lost the first game. We didn’t create too much but we gave them three goals. We owe them one,” said midfielder and captain Jack Price.
RSL on the other hand have won two home games in the last week by one goal score lines. Bobby Wood and Rubio Rubin are both scoring goals. This a team many pundits had not making the playoffs, and they’ve shown they should be taken seriously.
Goal difference is the first tie breaker for the Rocky Mountain Cup, then away goals. Colorado will have a third game to catch up and clinch the trophy, as the teams play a third and final time in October at RSL. The Rapids don’t need to win this game, but a win would go a long way. A multi-goal win and that third leg, the trophy will very much be up for grabs.
Colorado wants to get RSL back and wipe the performance and result of the first game from their memory. RSL doesn’t have a win over a top team since May 1 against Sporting KC. It’s three points on the line as both teams fight for playoff seeding. There’s a trophy in play and so much more.
Photo Credit: John A. Babiak @Photog_JohnB
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