COMMERCE CITY, CO - OCTOBER 14: Chris Wingert #17 of the Real Salt Lake celebrates with the Rocky Mountain Cup as they retained it after playing to a 0-0 tie with the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on October 14, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
So I have said that to me the Rocky Mountain Cup doesn't mean much to me, I consider it an after thought to the season, but I am clearly in the minority as I posted a poll to ask people if the RMC had lost it's relevance and the results were that 72% of you think that it still is important for RSL. So I am going to disagree but celebrate with you the fact that with a pair of 2-0 home wins over the Rapids already this year, the Cup is ours for another year.
So that leaves us with our match on Saturday at Colorado, for the Rapids they can't do anything to win the Cup, but given their awful form of late, they lost all 6 of their MLS matches in July, and now find themselves 11 points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot. The reality is that the Rapids have lost more matches than any other team in MLS, their 14 losses are two more than either Portland or Toronto have. Now the Rapids have had to deal with their off-season coaching change, they have had to try to change their very style of play due to a new coach as well as the plaque of injuries they have had to deal with this year. It is almost enough to make you feel sorry for them, but how can you feel sorry for a franchise that is run as poorly as the Rapids, who after years of treating their most loyal fans like crap, finally give them a section of their own where they can stand, drum, chant, I mean it is almost like they got it right for awhile. Then they went ahead and sent a letter to a fan letting him know he was banned for life for swearing, and you realize that perhaps this is one organization that doesn't deserve the supporters they have.
After their loss to the Sounders last weekend, head coach Oscar Pareja made the following statement to the fans:
I want to tell them that we are - I'm going to say embarrassed. because they deserve more than this. But I am the first one to take full responsibility, of the lack of results, of the team.
Clearly the Rapids have become a desperate organization and team, and that makes they dangerous as at this point there is nothing left for them to lose. will they be able to find a way to step up against RSL on Saturday?
A look at RSL after the jump:
Real Salt Lake found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline in Costa Rica on Tuesday, but given the circumstances things could have been much worse. Not only did RSL give up an early goal and pick up two first half yellow cards, but early in the second half Nat Borchers was given a red card that if not overly harsh was simply a very bad call. Playing with 10 men on the road isn't easy, doing so behind a goal even tougher, so when you lose your second starting center back due to an injury within 2-3 minutes of the red card to your other, yeah things just get nearly impossible. So when you look at the final numbers of the match and see that RSL actually dominated most of the stats of the match you get back a bit of your confidence, but the failure to convert chances again haunted the final result.
So now RSL is headed to Colorado for our 3rd match of the season with the Rapids, and my biggest worry is that the team will be a bit over confident, we have beat the Rapids 2-0 in each of our first two matches this year. That allowed us to wrap up the RMC already, the team knows about the struggles of the Rapids, and if you toss out the San Jose loss, well RSL hasn't looked bad at all in recent matches In fact RSL went 3-1-1 in July and all 5 matches were against Western Conference opponents. So despite being swept by the Earthquakes, RSL sit just 2 points behind them in the standings, the prize is the top spot both in the Western Conference and in MLS. With San Jose idle this weekend, a win for RSL and they take the top spot.
So while on the surface of things around the RSL world, like next weekends match at Vancouver, getting ready for our first home Champions League match (Tauro FC on Aug. 21st). It would be easy to overlook this leftover match of the Rocky Mountain Cup, but with a large group of RSL fans making the trip to Colorado and that chance to take over first place, well I expect a full out effort from RSL.
I will be posting my match preview early on Saturday morning, so stay tuned.
OFF MY SOAPBOX