By: Stephanie Gardner
In 2005, the year that Real Salt Lake became an official MLS team, fans from Colorado and Utah “founded the bi-partisan Committee of 10, five supporters from each club ”. They created the criteria of a contest where the yearly winner would walk away with the “Rocky Mountain Cup.”
The cup is awarded at the end of the MLS season, and is given to the team with the most points. In the event of a tie, the winner is chosen by the team with the most overall goals that season. If it is still a tie, then it comes down to how many away goals, and the most recent head-to-head victory.
The announcement of this coveted prize planted a seed in the heart of all players and fans associated with the Rapids and Real Salt Lake. This has produced one of the most intense rivalries of the MLS. The Colorado Rapids have won it twice, and Real Salt Lake has taken it home three times.
Numerous events have intensified this rivalry. Kyle Beckerman was traded from Colorado to Real Salt Lake, July 2007, making him the player that has been on the winning team all 5 years. Real Salt Lake has not lost at home since May 2009. When the Rapids came to play against RSL, they not only wanted to gain points towards the Cup, as well as a playoff spot, but they were hoping to come with a game plan and break RSL’s winning streak at Rio Tinto Stadium.
This past Saturday, the Colorado Rapids, along with about 100 supporters, made their way over the Rocky Mountains to have their first encounter with Real Salt Lake this 2010 season. It was a highly anticipated match. Over 18,000 proud RSL fans were in attendance, along with a section reserved for the dedicated Rapids’ fans who traveled by bus, car, and plane to watch this crucial match.
Both teams started with key players not on the pitch. For the Rapids, Omar Cummings was back in Colorado due to an injury. As for RSL, Kyle Beckerman was on the bench, until absolutely necessary. At 36 minutes, Kosuke Kimura had a flawless cross into Conor Casey, who displayed his impressive ability by heading the ball into the goal. Well into the second half, it became necessary for RSL to put in all their substitutes, including their captain, Beckerman. [picappgallerysingle id=”9592996″]
Into stoppage time, the Colorado Rapids still led 1-0. The strength is took to hold RSL was applaudable. With 30 seconds left in stoppage time, Defender Nat Borchers came up and perfectly headed in a cross from Andy Williams to end the game with a tie 1-1.
The anticipation leading up to this match that ended in a draw is similar to a season finale of a favorite TV show; where the final words you see are “to be continued”. Shocked that it ended like it did, the fans are now counting down the days until they find out what happens next. The final game of the season for both the Rapids and Real Salt Lake is in Colorado, against each other. As for now, the battle for the Rocky Mountain Cup is to be continued…