Despite Real Salt Lake’s run to the team’s second MLS Cup final, the Western Conference champions lost their regional rivalry’s trophy in 2013. On Saturday, however, the team that saw its six-year-run as Rocky Mountain Cup winners come to an end took the first step toward regaining its title, with only late consolation bringing the Colorado Rapids to within 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
RSL opened the scoring when a movement from right-to-left caught Colorado too narrow on the far side. Javier Morales fed João Plata into the left of the area, setting up the Ecuadorian for the home side’s 23rd minute opener.
Just after halftime, a foul in the penalty area by Drew Moor allowed Javier Morales to score his fourth goal in two games. Colorado pulled the goal back late through Moor’s close range header but went the final 14 minutes without a shot on target. Prolonging its rivals’ recent slump, RSL improved to 6-0-5 on the season, remaining the only undefeated team in Major League Soccer.
In the absence of Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, and Álvaro Saborío, it was a convincing performance by one of the league’s teams hit hardest by World Cup call ups. Granted, Colorado ended up putting more shots on target, but the Rapids didn’t test Jeff Attinella until two minutes into first half stoppage time. The rest of the team’s chances came with the score 2-0. RSL may have been limited to four tests of Clint Irwin, but the team maintained a degree of control.
That they were able to do so without three key cogs has to be a concern for Colorado. Unlike RSL, the Rapids are without World Cup absences, yet they were unable to replicate last year’s success against their Rocky Mountain rivals. After three straight poor performances, the Rapids look like they’re over their early bounce and are in need of a new solution, particularly going forward.