SANDY, Utah – Since the 2007 season when Real Salt Lake first took the Rocky Mountain Cup away from their rival Colorado Rapids, a trophy they haven't relinquished since, RSL have somehow found a way to grind out results when playing at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
The Claret-and-Cobalt have only won one time while visiting, a 1-0 decision back in 2007, but they have managed to grab a point five times while only losing three times in the nine games. So how have they managed to get a result two-thirds of the time they cross the Rockies?
"There isn't any one particular answer," head coach Jason Kreis told reporters on Thursday. "There are a lot of things that go into it. Colorado is a very, very short flight. It's also a place a lot of our players have played before. It's a familiar venue because we play there multiple times every single year. And we've had prior success, means good feelings, confidence when we're there. Add those all up and I think you've got a place we do OK at.
"We don't do great there," he continued. "I don't remember the last time we won there, but we manage to get results and we know it's a battle. Maybe that's something else. We just know it is going to be tough and maybe we get up for it."
RSL are already behind the eight ball if they want to keep the Cup for the sixth consecutive season. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw three weeks ago in Rio Tinto Stadium. After Saturday's clash (7:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), the two teams will complete the series in Colorado on August 3, meaning finding results on the road will be necessary to keep the hardware. And after the draw in Real's home opener, Kreis admitted could have been worse.
"When we looked back at the game we played against them, we could say we may have been fortunate not to lose," he said. "They had a lot of clear-cut goal scoring chances on us, quite a few in the second half. [Nick] Rimando, thankfully, stood on his head and kept us with a chance to take a point.
"We've got to really look at that, evaluate that, be critical against ourselves and say, 'how do we play a smarter game against them to not give them so many chance to score.'"
RSL know they are also facing an opponent desperate to climb out of a corner after failing to win any of their first five games of 2013.
Said Kreis, "The longer it has gone without them getting a win, the more pressure, the more frustration and the more hungry they're going to be to get that win, so we have to be prepared for a very dangerous team."