The Colorado Rapids renew their Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry with Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).

It’s a rivalry that dates back to 2005, with RSL holding a 24-14-11 all-time advantage coming off a decisive 3-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium last month.

That defeat was Colorado’s last, with the Rapids going 3-0-1 in their next four to move into fourth place in the Western Conference.

Colorado (1.89 PPG) are five points behind conference-leading Seattle, but have two games in hand.

While the Sounders have been considered an MLS contender since the start of the season – and have done nothing in 2021 to dissuade that argument – the Rapids haven’t been firmly in that conversation.

But should they be? Under the direction of head coach Robin Fraser, Colorado have turned things around and become a force in the West. A blockbuster deal to acquire Mark-Anthony Kaye has fortified a midfield that, with Jack Price and Kellyn Acosta, is second maybe just to the Sounders' trio of Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan and Joao Paulo.

On the latest edition of Extratime, co-host David Gass extolled additional virtues of the Rocky Mountain bunch, especially coming off an impressive 2-1 road win over the Galaxy in the midweek.

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“Outside of Seattle, I think every game they’d go into in the playoffs, they’d have the best midfield in that matchup. They have three center backs they can trust, they’ve got the wingbacks that can change the game,” Gass said.

Co-host Charlie Davies, though, poured some cold water on the Rapids joining the likes of the New England Revolution, Sounders and Sporting Kansas City as MLS Cup contenders with a mic-dropping statement.

“I think Robin Fraser has done a good job of making the most of this squad and developing certain players, but what I think they lack, and why I can’t actually see them winning MLS Cup is they don’t have a profound goal scorer, someone who is a game-winner,” Davies said. “It might not even have to be someone who can change the game, but someone who you know is going to bang in goals in those crucial moments in a game.”

Gass said he couldn’t argue against that, conceding “Michael Barrios has never been a playoff player, Jonathan Lewis has been inconsistent, Diego Rubio is not a lockdown goal-scorer, [Braian] Galvan has played at wingback mostly where he’s been OK and [Younes] Namli’s obviously hurt,”

But Gass still believes Colorado have enough weapons to be a legit contender come playoff time.

“I think they can be No. 2 to Seattle — that’s a tough matchup for them — but SKC has holes, the Galaxy, we don’t know if Chicharito will be healthy, they have holes,” Gass said. “You look at everyone else and I think it’s fair to say the Rapids can be a top-two team coming into the playoffs and they could be favorites for the Western Conference finals.”

For more on Colorado and other key MLS topics, check out the Extratime episode here.

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