As we gear up for another one of those tricky Sunday matches against a little team from Colorado, it occurs to me that the buildup has been — shall we say — nonexistent.
That's for a match against our "rivals" a state over, Colorado Rapids. Whether you think it's an artificial rivalry or not, it stands to reason that this is the tamest buildup we've seen in an age.
For the past few years, it seems like every time we come up against the Rapids, talk very quickly turns to how our rivalry is dissipating in favor of more competitive matches — games against Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, LA Galaxy, and the like.
That, for a long time, seemed like fluff to me. After all, people would still get up for this particular match when it came around. But this year, it feels different. There's no hate flowing through us as a fanbase (maybe that's a good thing) and we're almost content to just let the match come to us.
Is it really down to competitiveness? Or have we simply outgrown what was an important rivalry in our first ten years in favor of more metropolitan teams and matches?
Colorado is a popular tourist spot, sure, but Denver lacks to appeal of a Seattle or Portland — those are two cities people genuinely want to visit, and when you toss in the opposing team's support, the matches become a bit more fun, too. Fights are infrequent (maybe that's down to security keeping tighter control) and when you run into someone from the other side, they'll probably shake your hand and thank you for coming. That's far from a "Dennever" incident that marred an away match a few years ago, when an RSL supporter bus was graffito-tagged.
But if that's what it was — a distaste for Colorado and Denver — couldn't the hate, you know, grow and fester? It doesn't seem to have done so. It's more of a taming than anything.
Maybe the answer's more internal — Real Salt Lake has been struggling for results, and any opponent right now seems like a big hill the team has to climb. Is it really that simple?
Whatever the case, without a true rival, there's a weird feeling about this game. But maybe it comes down to a simple question — and it's not about hate. Let's have The Supremes ask us.