SANDY, Utah – Circle Saturday’s Rocky Mountain Cup clash (7 pm MT, MLS LIVE and CW30 in Utah) in your calendar. Real Salt Lake already have.
“I think I can say that a lot of things are just another game, but for me this one always carries a little extra weight,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said of his club’s showdown with the Colorado Rapids after training on Friday. “I think that’s a good thing. I don’t think we should shy away from that or be embarrassed about it. Certainly it’s just three points. I mean, I’m not going to make it like this is a cup final for us, but it is Colorado and it is in our building.”
RSL and the Rapids hold two of the last three MLS Cup titles between them, the Claret-and-Cobalt taking the 2009 title and Colorado matching them the following season. The fact that both squads have been talented in recent years adds to the rivalry.
“There are probably going to be some close games and when you add a little bit of rivalry to it, it’s going to be a little more intense,” said defender Chris Wingert, who played for the Rapids for two seasons beginning in 2006. “Both teams are really talented, and I think that’s the case again this year.”
Late-game heroics and playoff implications have led to high drama in the rivals’ recent history, as well as a high profile confrontation in which RSL owner Dave Checketts took exception to a post-game celebration by midfielder Pablo Mastroeni. These type of events have added to the rivalry.
“It seems like some crazy things happen during these games, so we’ve got to be on our toes,” said Kyle Beckerman who also once plied his trade with the Rapids. “We’ve got to be focused and just be ready for anything. No matter what happens during the game we’ve got to keep going and keep going because we know things happen at the end of the games.”
However, in recent years it seems that Real Salt Lake has had Colorado’s number as they’ve maintained control of the Rocky Mountain Cup – a supporter’s trophy – for the past five seasons.
“I think the fact that we’ve been so successful the past few years [against Colorado] has definitely put a chip on their shoulder,” said defender Nat Borchers, yet another RSL convert who once wore the Rapids uniform. “It makes it that much more important for us to make sure we keep this title.”