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Los Cafeteros Chicho, Gómez Lead Impressive Fight in Colorado Comeback Thriller


Sunday, May 19, 2024

Real Salt Lake 5 : 3 Colorado Rapids

May 19, 2024; America First Field; Sandy, Utah

Real Salt Lake (8-2-4, 28 points, 1st West); Colorado Rapids (6-5-3, 21 points, 6th West)

Player spotlight - Chicho and Gomez? More like Batman and Robin

Stars shine brightest when the night is darkest.

A cliche, perhaps, but the saying rings true nonetheless, and for Real Salt Lake, none embody the famous precept moreso than its dynamic Colombian attacking duo, Captain Chicho Arango and 21-year-old Andres Gomez.

The devastating duet of Chicho and Gomez exerted their wily ways yet again, with each scoring brace, the Captain Chicho also earning a further assist as the Claret-and-Cobalt rallied from the grave with three goals in the final six minutes plus injury time to knock out Colorado Rapids 5-3 in a thrilling Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry clash on Saturday, May 18th, 2024.

Indeed the pair proved the biggest stars on the night, shining brightest in their team’s hour of need as RSL retained all derby bragging rights in its comprehensive demolition of its bitter Western Conference rivals, sealing a miraculous two-goal-deficit, come-from-behind win in a spellbinding contest at America First Field.

RSL came into this game determined for a reversal following its shock 2-1 loss to the Rapids - its last loss - back on March 9, also at home. The 62nd meeting across all competitions between the fan-created Rocky Mountain Cup rivals got off to the worst possible start for host RSL, conceding back-to-back goals within the first 20 minutes to stun the standing-room-only home support and put RSL’s active nine-game unbeaten streak in peril, to its bitter rivals no less

Resilience, however, has always been and remains one of the foundations of Real Salt Lake - especially during the Pablo Mastroeni era - embodied by every player and fan who takes the opportunity to don the famous Claret-and-Cobalt shirt. That never-say-die belief was on full display Saturday. Two goals down early, nervously looking like the ascendant West streak might be over, RSL’s Colombian duet of Chicho and Gomez led the fightback for a fairytale comeback win - only the second time ever RSL had turned a two-goal home deficit into a two-goal victory (July 24, 2009 v Dallas) - undoubtedly one of the greatest games in the Club’s 628-game MLS history.

The first goal, the one that sparked the first of two comebacks, arrived in the 23rd minute. Matt Crooks, receiving the ball on the right flank, played a pass centrally to Braian Ojeda who skillfully looped the ball over his marker before unleashing a powerful left-footed strike which stung the gloves of Zack Steffen in goal for the Rapids and rebounded ultimately to Chicho who rifled an effort in off the underside of the bar to set the stage for an incredible comeback.

With Chicho having gotten on the scoresheet, Gomez then stepped up to take on the baton with a stunning volley to level the score right before haltfime. A 40th-minute corner kick was curled into the box by Diego Luna, found Gomez at the back post with a first-time lefty volley, flying past Steffen before he had time to react, bringing the house down and restoring parity in the contest.

RSL subsequently conceded a third and fell behind again early in the second half, this time responding with three goals in the final six minutes of the game plus injury time. Chicho took his turn to pick up the baton as a cleared corner from Luna found Emeka Eneli on the edge of the box, the second-year sensation unleashing a right-footed curler that struck the underside of the bar, fell off Steffen as Chicho rose highest above two Rapids defenders to head home the rebound for his League-leading 13th goal of the season to draw RSL level again late in an enthralling contest.

Gomez’s took the mantle again, following his captain’s lead with the pair completing a one-two double act for the game-winning goal and assist just three minutes later. A left-sided cross from Bryan Oviedo evaded everyone on the box, rescued by the feet of Gomez on the far right side just outside the box. Andrés quickly exchanged an incisive one-two with Chicho to create some space in the area before toe-poking the ball past an onrushing Steffen to send the RSL starters, used & unused subs and the nearly 21,000 faithful into ecstasy.

It was a moment of magic and pure brilliance from the Cafetero pair who had led the fight back against all the odds, RSL extending all streaks and widening the gap atop the table from the depths of despair and defeat, pulling off yet another great escape.

Captain Chicho’s brace and assist in the game represented the 28-year-old’s 12th/13th goals and eighth assist of the season. The Colombian striker has now also directly contributed to 21 of RSL’s 27 goals in this MLS campaign. Gomez’s brace also represented the young forward’s sixth and seventh goals of the season, now second top scorer in the team behind Chicho, as well as his fourth game-winner of 2024. Gomez’s seven goals also places him at ninth on the MLS top scorers chart this season, and his four assists means he now has 11 direct goal contributions this campaign. The pair combined have now contributed 20 goals and 12 assists in total thus far this season.

RSL’s very own Batman and Robin. Sitting at the top of the Western Conference table in what has been a hugely impressive season thus far, the devastating Colombian duet have proven to be their team’s brightest lights. Indeed given their performances this campaign, one would surely be forgiven for drawing metaphorical comparisons between the RSL pair and the DC Comics fictional crime fighting duo - the caped crusader and his boy wonder sidekick. The experienced and inspirational Chicho with his talented and explosive compatriot Gomez both leading the charge for Real Salt Lake this season. In a campaign that promises much after such a positive early start, fans of RSL have much to be excited for about their iconic South-American player duo spearheading their team.

Fans can catch RSL next Saturday when it travels to the Lone Star State for a matchup with FC Dallas on May 25, kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MT. For tickets, schedules, info, news and more around the Western Conference’s top team, visit

Important Stats

  • Saturday’s victory extends the active RSL unbeaten run to 10 matches, dating back to a March 9 home loss against Colorado; the streak is the third-longest in Club history, also marking the first time in RSL’s 20 years that the team has registered back-to-back seasons with unbeaten runs of nine or more.
  • Captain Chicho Arango’s brace and assist represented the Colombian star’s 12th/13th goals and eighth assist this season. Arango has either scored or assisted on 21 of 27 RSL goals this campaign, now two goals clear atop the MLS Golden Boot race over Luis Suarez (MIA) and Christian Benteke (DCU), each with 11 goals, Arango an early contender for the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award.
  • FW Andrés Gómez nets his sixth and seventh goals of the year, as well as his fourth game-winner of 2024; Gómez’ seven goals placing him tied for 9th-most in MLS, representing an 11th goal contribution (four assists this campaign).
  • Highest-scoring RSL match since Sept. 2018, when RSL scored six in back-to-back matches against LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids. Also the most combined goals scored in the 62-game Rocky Mountain Cup histor