COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- The Curse of Commerce City has finally been broken.
Substitute Jaime Castrillon’s 70th-minute equalizer gave the Colorado Rapids a 2-2 draw against rival Real Salt Lake, but more importantly it gave Colorado the Rocky Mountain Cup for the first time in seven years on a stormy Saturday night on a rain-soaked Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
After the Rapids recorded a win and a draw earlier this season against their Rocky Mountain rivals, Salt Lake needed a victory to re-claim the Cup, and Alvaro Saborio’s 21st minute penalty looked like it would hold up as the difference after an early flurry of goals. But deep into the second half, Castrillon’s header allowed the Rapids to dramatically hoist the coveted silverware for the first time since 2006.
The draw, however, did little to settle the clustered Western Conference standings, with Salt Lake (11-7-5) getting their first result in three games and staying atop the West at 38 points, while Colorado (9-7-8) collected their seventh-straight result and their 35th point of the season.
On a night filled with bitten fingernails across the Rocky Mountains, naturally, the goals came early and often. Seventy-seven seconds into the match, Kyle Beckerman set up the opening goal in his first match back from the Gold Cup. Sprinting down the right side of the box, Beckerman delivered a perfect box for a wide-open Ned Grabavoy for the easy second minute opener, and the quick goal sent a sizeable RSL traveling contingency into a frenzy.
But the visitors’ excitement didn’t last long. On a harmless-looking long ball into space, Rapids striker Deshorn Brown used nothing but pure speed to wrestle his way around Real defender Nat Borchers, and Brown fired the ball into the back of the net for the ninth-minute equalizer.
Ten minutes later, though, and one-on-one with Real Salt Lake’s Robbie Findley in the box, Rapids defender Drew Moor lunged across Findley attempting to make a last-ditch tackle. Moor caught both of Findley’s legs, resulting in a clear penalty that Moor didn’t argue.
But in a match already filled with a laundry list of story lines and drama, Mother Nature couldn’t help but get involved, either. A thunderstorm blew through just as Saborio was lining up to take his penalty kick, resulting in a 62-minute weather delay.
With the Rapids pushing for the equalizer in the second half, Nick Rimando, just back from Gold Cup duties, came up large with two fantastic stops on a 53rd minute corner kick to keep the visitors ahead. But then, the Rapids found their magic.
Only Rimando’s brilliance kept Colorado from collecting all three points, as his reflex save on Brandon McDonald’s accidental tip-back in the 87th and on Shane O’Neill’s short-range blast in the 88th allowed Salt Lake to salvage a point.
The Rapids will hit the road for three of their next four games, starting next Sunday at the Home Depot Center against Chivas USA (11 pm ET, UniMas), while Real Salt Lake heads home for their US Open Cup semifinal with the Portland Timbers at the Rio Tinto (9:30 pm ET) before hosting the Houston Dynamo in regular season action next Saturday (9:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Nick Rimando||He allowed two goals, but made at least four Save of the Week caliber stops to keep RSL in it.|
|2||Deshorn Brown||Played with great pace for the Rapids, opening up the field for his teammates, as well as scoring his first of the season.|
|3||Kyle Beckerman||Solid two-way performance from the RSL captain. Stepped up in the play to set up the first goal.|