COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Real Salt Lake (11-7-5, 38 points, West #1) picked up a result on Saturday at the Colorado Rapids (9-7-8, 35 points, West #2), tying its longtime rival 2-2 in a weather-delayed match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
While the draw kept the Claret-and-Cobalt in first-place in both MLS and the Western Conference, it wasn’t enough for the team to retain the 2013 Rocky Mountain Cup Presented by Mark Miller Subaru, which transferred to the Rapids for the first time since 2006. RSL finished its regular season series against Colorado with a 0-1-2 record, tying the Rapids 1-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 16 before falling 1-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on April 6.
Real Salt Lake got off to a tremendous start on Saturday, taking the lead through MF Ned Grabavoy in just the second minute. MF Kyle Beckerman – making his return to the lineup after missing the last four games while on international duty – created the goal, collecting a ball on the right wing and curling a low cross to a wide-open Grabavoy at the back post for a tap in goal.
Unfortunately, RSL’s lead didn’t last long, with Colorado MF Deshorn Brown equalizing in the ninth minute. DF Marvell Wynne flicked GK Clint Irwin’s goal kick into space in the middle of RSL’s third and Brown did the rest, muscling past a RSL defender at the top of the box before hitting a first time shot past RSL GK Nick Rimando as he was going to ground.
Real Salt Lake FW Robbie Findley earned a penalty kick for the Claret-and-Cobalt in the 20th minute. The speedy striker collected a pass on the left side, cutting in on his right foot and dribbling into the box before being taken down inside the area by Rapids DF Drew Moor. Referee Fotis Bazakos immediately pointed to the spot for a penalty, but bizarrely whistled for a lightning-delay just as Claret-and-Cobalt FW Alvaro Saborio was stepping to the PK.
The ensuing weather delay lasted 62 minutes, with Saborio forced to contemplate his spot kick in the locker room. Thankfully for RSL, the delay didn’t faze the Costa Rican international, who buried the penalty into the lower left corner to put the Utah side up 2-1.
Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis was forced into a substitution in the 24th minute, bringing injured MF Javier Morales (R adductor pain) as a precaution.
The Claret-and-Cobalt had two more decent looks in the first half, with MF Luis Gil nearly scoring an Olimpico from a corner kick in the 38th minute before Morales replacement MF Khari Stephenson blasted a long-range shot that Irwin held in the 40th.
Colorado came out firing in the second half, generating plenty of chances and putting RSL on its back foot.
Rimando – who, like Beckerman, was also playing his first match in a month following his return from international duty – kept the Claret-and-Cobalt in the match with several huge stops throughout the second half, the first two of which came in the 53rd minute. Colorado FW Jaime Castrillon got on the end of a set piece at the top-left corner of the six, flicking a header toward the far post that Rimando kept out with a diving save to his left. He quickly got to his feet and raced to the other side of the net to again parry away the ball, which had deflected off of RSL DF Nat Borchers and almost crossed the goal line following Rimando’s initial save.
The Rapids had another chance in the 55th minute. MF Shane O’Neill whipped in a cross from the right wing, picking out Brown at the back post. The rookie striker had a good look at goal, but couldn’t keep his header on frame, sending it wide of the left post.
Colorado found the equalizer in the 70th minute. DF Chris Klute collected MF Dillon Powers’ through ball on the left wing, taking the ball to the end line before curling a cross into the area that Castrillon headed inside the near post from the left corner of the six.
Rimando came up huge again in the 85th and 87th minutes, making several more big saves to preserve the point for RSL.
Real Salt Lake will return to action on Wednesday, when it will host the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium in a 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal. Tickets are available for Wednesday’s match and can be purchased online, at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office or over the phone at 801-727-2700.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 2-2 COL
- Saturday’s result broke RSL’s streak of six-straight Rocky Mountain Cup Presented by Mark Miller Subaru titles. Colorado’s last RMC came in 2006. This is the first time that the Rocky Mountain Cup title hasn’t been won by RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman, who won the first two editions of the trophy while with Colorado before winning the last six with RSL following the 2007 trade that sent him from Denver to Salt Lake City.
- Real Salt Lake MF Javier Morales left Saturday’s match in the 24th minute. Morales’s substitution was precautionary after the Claret-and-Cobalt maestro experienced pain in his right adductor. It is not yet known if Morales will be available for Wednesday’s home U.S. Open Cup Semifinal against Portland.
- Beckerman and RSL GK Nick Rimando both returned to the RSL lineup on Saturday for the first time since the June 29 1-0 win at Toronto FC. Both players – along with suspended DF Tony Beltran – had missed all four of RSL’s July matches while on CONCACAF Gold Cup duty with the U.S. national team. Beckerman, Rimando and Beltran all returned to RSL training on Friday after participating in the MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City on Wednesday following last Sunday’s Gold Cup Final win over Panama in Chicago.
- Real Salt Lake DF Brandon McDonald made his Claret-and-Cobalt debut on Saturday, starting and going the full 90 in the draw two weeks after being acquired in a trade with D.C. United. McDonald is the 26th different player to start for RSL this season. The only four players on the opening day roster that haven’t started a game this year are injured DF Rich Balchan, injured MF John Stertzer, on-loan MF Enzo Martinez and backup GK Lalo Fernandez. The McDonald-Nat Borchers center back pairing is the eighth such partnership RSL has used in MLS play this year.
- Real Salt Lake MF Ned Grabavoy’s second minute goal gives him five goals on the year – shattering his previous career high of three. Grabavoy is the fifth RSL player to reach the five goal mark this year, joining FW Alvaro Saborio (8), FW Olmes Garcia (5), FW Robbie Findley (5) and Morales (5) in the club. Only two RSL players – Saborio and current New York FW Fabian Espindola – had five goals are more all of last year. Additionally, Grabavoy’s second minute goal was the quickest RSL goal this year, breaking the mark he set in the fourth minute of RSL’s 4-1 win at Chivas USA on May 19. Grabavoy’s five MLS goals this year are just three shy of the eight career goals he had entering the 2013 season.
- Saborio’s 21st minute penalty kick goal gives him eight goals in just 10 MLS matches this year. The Costa Rican international has four goals in two games since returning from Gold Cup duty and leads MLS among players with more than 101 minutes played with 0.86 goals per 90 minutes. RSL is now 32-6-8 all-time in all comps when Saborio scores. Saborio now has 62 goals in 106 games across all competitions, with 20 game-winning goals and 15 multi-goal matches.
- Prior to Saturday’s lightning-delayed match, RSL’s last weather-delayed game was on Sept. 1, 2012, when RSL and D.C. United were delayed 84 minutes in the Claret-and-Cobalt’s 1-0 win over United at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 2 0 2
Colorado Rapids 1 1 2
RSL – Ned Grabavoy (Kyle Beckerman) – 2’
COL – Deshorn Brown (Marvell Wynne) – 9’
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Penalty Kick) – 21’
COL – Jaime Castrillon (Chris Klute) – 70’
COL – Clint Irwin (Yellow; Dissent) – 21’
RSL – Kyle Beckerman (Yellow; Foul) – 73’
COL – Shane O’Neill (Yellow; Foul) – 90’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Lovel Palmer, Nat Borchers, Brandon McDonald, Abdoulie Mansally; Kyle Beckerman (C); Luis Gil (Olmes Garcia, 85’), Ned Grabavoy; Javier Morales (Khari Stephenson, 24’); Robbie Findley (Joao Plata, 78’), Alvaro Saborio
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella (GK), Aaron Maund, Cole Grossman, Sebastian Velasquez
Colorado Rapids (4-5-1): Clint Irwin; Marvell Wynne (Jaime Castrillon, 46’), Drew Moor (C), German Mera, Chris Klute; Atiba Harris (Tony Cascio, 35’), Shane O’Neill, Nathan Sturgis, Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown; Edson Buddle (Danny Mwanga, 56’)
Substitutes not used: Matt Pickens (GK), Dillon Serna, Jamie Smith, Anthony Wallace
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Assistant Referees: Peter Balciunas, Colin Arblaster
4th Official: Younes Marrakchi
Weather: Rainy and 65 degrees