Real Salt Lake "kept grinding" to blow away 10-man Rapids in final minutes

SANDY, Utah -- Nick Rimando faced 20 shots from the Colorado Rapids, six were on target and Rimando kept each of those out on Saturday to help Real Salt Lake clinch their fourth straight Rocky Mountain Cup with a 2-0 win as part of Heineken Rivalry Week.

None were bigger than the two saves Rimando made in the 27th minute. Rimando went down to try and punch a Tommy Smith shot, but it didn’t clear his backline. Kei Kamara followed with a toe poke that Rimando reached with his fingertips reaching up from his own goal line. From there, his defense blocked another shot before clearing the ball for good.

“I should have scored at least one tonight,” Smith said, but he didn’t.

“It was a little flurry going on in there, nobody gave up on it,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said. “Nick made the first couple saves or blocks. We needed Nick to keep us in the game and keep it tight. We needed every inch of Nick on that play for sure.”

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The craziness of the Rocky Mountain Cup didn’t end there. In the 89th minute, Rapids forward Kei Kamara received a red card. In the 93rd, Jefferson Savarino was ruled offside in the lead-up to a Damir Kreilach goal. Joao Plata drew a penalty and converted from the spot in the 96th minute and Savarino cut through the Colorado defense for a back-door goal in the 99th minute.

All to say, it was a wild finish to what was shaping up to be a ho-hum scoreless draw.

“Things did not go our way tonight in the last 10 minutes in any fashion,” Colorado head coach Conor Casey said.

“We just kept at it, kept at it, kept grinding and eventually they broke," Beckerman said.

While RSL were up for the rivalry clash, they admitted they took a lesson from their last outing.

“Going up a man, the guys were pushing on the front foot, in a similar situation to LAFC a game ago,” RSL assistant coach Tyrone Marshall said. “We learned from our mistake and the guys knew what they had to get done and they did it.

“It shows that we have great character, great resilience. We could have put our head down, go home with a tie and retain the cup. We have something that we’re playing for still and tonight they dug deep and came up with a result,” he continued.

The win pushes Real Salt Lake into second place in the Western Conference, at least for 24 hours, a spot RSL know they’ll have to fight to hold onto with everyone below LAFC bunched together.

“We’re in second but we’re probably two losses from seventh or out of the playoffs,” RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak said. “That’s how tight the table is.”