COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- With both sides fresh off of Western Conference losses last week, the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake entered Saturday evening’s fixture hungry for a result and claim at the Rocky Mountain Cup.
By night’s end, Colorado retained the silverware by virtue of goal differential, but ended up losing to their rivals 2-1. The win helped keep the Claret and Cobalt alive in the Western Conference playoff picture by virtue of first half goals from Joao Plata and Luke Mulholland.
With losses by the Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo earlier in the weekend, RSL were fast out of the gates on the attack. A free kick won by Javier Morales resulted in a shot by Aaron Maund in the sixth minute, but the effort was too high. Seconds later, a follow up effort on goal from Plata was blocked by Kevin Doyle, keeping the two sides level.
Colorado drew first blood in the 16th minute when Sean St. Ledger’s cross found Doyle's head, who struck the effort true for his fifth goal of the season, giving the Rapids a 1-0 lead.
After a run of attacking play from Colorado, a foul by Bobby Burling on Juan Manuel Martinez in the 31st minute would result in a direct free kick awarded to RSL. Plata would make the most of the opportunity, curling his effort around the wall into the upper left corner of Colorado’s net, leveling the score at 1-1 in the 33rd minute.
With momentum on the visitor’s side, Martinez appeared to put Salt Lake in front with a shot past Clint Irwin in the 35th minute, but the RSL newcomer was ruled offside on the play.
Salt Lake finally would finally put their noses in front in the 43rd minute, however. Mulholland’s shot from outside of Colorado’s 18-yard box screamed past Irwin to give RSL a 2-1 lead. At half, the visitor’s not only held the advantage on the scoreboard, but also 59 percent of the game’s possession.
With hopes to equalize, Colorado generated pressure early in the second half, but did little to test RSL starting goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
After a short break, Salt Lake will look to continue its push for the postseason at home against the Portland Timbers on October 14 (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Colorado will remain at Dick's Sporting Goods Park to host Didier Drogba and the Montreal Impact next Saturday (6 pm ET, MLS LIVE) before closing out its season on the road.