SANDY, Utah – Ever since Real Salt Lake joined MLS in 2005, their Rocky Mountain Cup showdowns with Colorado have produced plenty of fierce encounters. On Saturday evening, another chapter will be written in the burgeoning history of the rivalry (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“The fans of both sides want to have bragging rights over the other,” said RSL defender Nat Borchers. “There have been some really big games between the two teams, and I know how much it means to the guys on this team to beat them, and I’m sure it means just as much to [Colorado].”
The Rapids won the first two Cups – awarded to the winner of the season series between the two teams – in 2005 and '06, but since 2007, the trophy has resided on the western side of the Rockies.
Interestingly enough, RSL captain Kyle Beckerman, who is suspended for Saturday’s game following his red card against San Jose, has been a part of the series in all seven seasons of its existence but has never lost the Cup. He was on the Rapids for the first two seasons before being traded to Real midway through the 2007 season.
With both RSL and Colorado winning an MLS Cup in recent years – Real in 2009 and the Rapids in 2010, has the Rocky Mountain Cup lost any of its luster?
“I don’t think it has,” said coach Jason Kreis. “It is still hugely important to our fans, and because we believe our fans are a big part of our success and a big part of what this team is about, winning the Cup for them is very important for us, too. We always know in the back of our minds when we face Colorado that there is that little extra bit of motivation there.”
“As a player that has been on both sides of the rivalry, I know it is a big deal,” said RSL defender Chris Wingert who, along with Beckerman and Borchers has played for both clubs. “We want to win it not only because we really need the three points right now, but because it does mean a lot to our fans.”
There have been several unforgettable moments in the rivalry from RSL owner Dave Checketts getting into a spat with Colorado’s Pablo Mastroeni, to Robbie Findley and Yura Movsisyan scoring final-minute tallies to grab the Cup in season-ending games. So while RSL own a 2-0 win over Colorado earlier in the MLS season and could clinch a sixth consecutive Cup with a win, expect just a little bit more from both sides.
“We don’t want to let our fans down – ever,” said Borchers, “but when there is something extra on the line like the Cup, we especially want to come out and play our best and get the win.”