In the midst of a late push to qualify for the 2015 MLS playoffs, Real Salt Lake traveled to Commerce City to battle their Rocky Mountain rivals the Colorado Rapids in October, where they had lost by a score of 3-1 just three months earlier.
This time around, the scoreline would reflect in their favor as they ultimately came out with a 2-1 win over the Rapids, thanks to goals from Joao Plata and Luke Mulholland. Unfortunately, the Rocky Mountain Cup didn’t return home with them, as the Rapids won it on series goal differential.
It looked as though Colorado were on their way to another win when Kevin Doyle drove home a header into the back of the net in the 16th minute. Sean St. Ledger sent in a long cross that Doyle was able to get his head on and put it just out of reach of a fully outstretched Nick Rimando to give the Rapids an early 1-0 lead.
That lead wouldn’t last very long, though, as Plata pulled one back in the 33rd minute when he drove in a beautiful free kick into the top left corner past Rapids ‘keeper Clint Irwin. Bobby Burling fouled Burrito Martinez which resulted in the free kick that would put RSL level with Colorado at one goal a piece.
After a couple more great looks on goal—including a goal by Burrito that was called back for an offside flag—RSL finally scored what was ultimately the game-winning goal in the 43rd minute.
Luke Mulholland collected the ball just past the top of the 18 after it was cleared by a Rapids defender and curled in a beautiful shot just past Irwin into the right side of the net. Mulholland’s goal gave RSL a 2-1 lead and would prove to be the nail in the coffin for the Rapids.
The second half would see RSL with a few more scoring chances from Martinez and Olmes Garcia, but neither side would find themselves tallying another goal, resulting in a 2-1 win for Salt Lake.
RSL controlled the majority of possession with 52 percent, and finished with nine shots overall (four on frame).
Of the three match-ups in 2015, there was one draw (0-0 in Salt Lake) and one win for each team, but Colorado’s goal differential from the 3-1 win in July would be the difference maker and they were declared the 2015 Rocky Mountain Cup winners.
Real Salt Lake will look to reclaim the cup as well as stay undefeated in the 2016 MLS season as they play host to Colorado this Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.