For the first time in seven years, Real Salt Lake's dominance in the Rocky Mountain Cup is seriously threatened.
With Colorado taking a 1-0 result at home on Saturday night, the Rapids now have four points in two matches with the Claret-and-Cobalt, and will claim this season's cup with anything other than a loss in the third and final meeting on Aug. 3 in Commerce City, Colo.
"We'd like to be in a different position, but it's still there to play for," Real midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "We've won here before so we're just going to have come and try and win here in that third game and we'll get it. But for the most part we want to be at the top of the table. We're not really concerned with Colorado. We concern ourselves with Supporters' Shields and things like that."
Beckerman has been on the winning side of the Rocky Mountain Cup in all eight years of its existence, capturing the first two while he still played for the Rapids, and then the last six with Salt Lake.
"I think we just didn't score," Beckerman said. "We created the chances and just weren't able to put one away. But on a different night I think we do. I think the main part is the type of the play that we did out there. We controlled the tempo of the game; ... we had 60 percent of the possession. That's what we like to do. And if we continue to play that way we're going to pick up some points on the road."
Neither Beckerman, nor RSL boss Jason Kreis seemed all that concerned with their position in the rivalry this season, keeping their focus squarely on their own team.
"We don't get too overly focused on our opponents," Kreis said. "We're still after the same philosophies that we're after all the time, and those are all dealing with ourselves. We're not trying to get too much after our opponent's weaknesses, but just play up to our strengths. I don't think we did a very effective job of that tonight. There were some moments still, again, where we were good, and unlucky probably not to score, but they had quite a few chances as well."
Kreis and Beckerman are probably right on target to be a little dismissive of Saturday's loss, which really only came down to a dash of luck on the part of Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who made a diving save on a penalty kick by RSL forward Alvaro Saborio in the eighth minute of play that preserved a stunningly early strike in the fifth minute by the Rapids.
"I think it's a pretty good shot by Sabo," Kreis said. "(Irwin) read it and made a great save, and that's always going to hurt. I think if we score that goal, it happens so quickly after their first goal that the match is probably completely different. I felt like Sabo, if he scores that penalty then he probably goes on to score two or three more, because he got several clear chances and was very unlucky tonight."
Saborio, who had been a perfect 12-for-12 at the spot prior to Irwin's save, gave the Rapids' goalkeeper credit for the save, but also was quick to point out the need to move on.
"It's football, it happens," Saborio said. "You have to be focus and be prepared for another penalty. I feel bad because I know if I scored the penalty it's a different game. But for now we have to stay forward and keep our heads up."
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