Melissa Majchrzak / Major League Soccer

Cup Runneth Over?

Reaction regarding the sudden announcement that the Rocky Mountain Cup trophy will be retired has slowly made its way to the locker rooms of both Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids, and the reaction has been more muted than anticipated. The winners of the last two MLS Cup titles jointly announced Thursday night that the once-bitter rivals will be retiring the Rocky Mountain Cup (RMC) when the teams meet on April 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The Rocky Mountain Cup was originally established in 2005 by Supporters Groups from both sides as a friendly competition in which the winner of the season series between the two teams would win the Cup and be recognized as the best team from the Rocky Mountain region. The teams have tied the last three season series, therefore allowing Salt Lake to retain the Cup following each campaign since winning it outright for the first time in 2007. But with the teams once again facing each only twice in 2011 the chance for another deadlocked series looms large, and the two sides could not agree on adjusting the tie-breaking procedures which were established at a time when the teams were meeting on three or more occasions.

Kyle Beckerman is considered the unofficial “King of the Rocky Mountain Cup,” standing as the only player to hoist the trophy on all six occasions, twice with Colorado in the first two years of the rivalry and the last four as a member of Real Salt Lake. The Utah side’s captain certainly knows the significance of the trophy to supporters on both sides, but he also knows there’s plenty of other hardware at stake for the Claret-and-Cobalt in 2011.

“It’s been a thrill to hand that trophy over to our supporters the last four years, both in Rio Tinto and at their place, so I’ll miss that a lot,” said Beckerman. “It’s kind of a shame we couldn’t come to an agreement to settle this and keep the RMC going. But with CONCACAF, the Open Cup, the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup to go after this year we’ve got bigger fish to fry, so I think we’ll be able to get past the disappointment pretty quickly.”

RSL defender and ex-Rapid Nat Borchers has also been a part of the rivalry on both sides, and the Colorado native has seen the dynamics of the InterMountain affairs evolve in recent years.

“When the rivalry started there seemed to be a lot of animosity between the two clubs on the field, and that made it really take off,” said Borchers. “But with the success we've both had in the past couple of seasons that bitterness is being replaced with mutual respect. Perhaps the time is right to start treating these games against Colorado just like every other game.”

Despite the differences that led to the trophy’s demise, the two sides did agree on one thing – with Real Salt Lake currently holding possession of the RMC, it was deemed fair that the Utahans would host its retirement ceremony prior to kick off during its home leg, coming up in less than two weeks’ time on Wednesday, April 13. The once-rivals will then close out their series on the second-to-last weekend of the MLS season on Friday, Oct. 14 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.