The RSL-Colorado rivalry looks like it is back. Since 2009 and 2010 when Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids respectively won MLS Championships, things cooled off and it seemed like there were definitely more heated, intense rivalries that formed for RSL. The same was likely true for Colorado. But for RSL, it really boiled down to meeting the same teams in important tournaments over and over again. The Galaxy, Timbers, the Sounders, and Sporting KC come to mind.
What makes things different now? The importance of the games and the quality of the two sides. Colorado and Salt Lake currently sit atop the MLS Standings (even though RSL has a game in hand, but that's fine) and that means that, for the time being, they are battling to be the top club in the league. I think virtually everyone that is a fan of either team would have been surprised to hear that even a few months ago since both teams were bottom feeders last year.
RSL went out and made some key additions, namely adding Burrito Martinez, Stephen Sunday, and Yura Movsisyan who just happens to be a player that was here for the most intense years of the Rocky Mountain rivalry. Those additions along with a healthy side and more experience in a new formation have paid off for Salt Lake and they look every bit the quality team of years past.
Colorado seems to have figured things out as well. Pablo Mastroeni brought in some veterans and the franchise decided to make a couple of big splash additions adding Jermaine Jones and, sooner than later, Tim Howard. These moves and the gritty defense of the players on the field resulting in some very positive results have reinvigorated the fan base who is still apparently waiting to see if this is the real deal or not. By my estimation, it is the real deal and the Rapids are back to being a true competitor.
All of this makes the game this Saturday that much more intriguing. We are about to find out if the rivalry truly is back. This is a game that matters and it could continue to matter through the end of the season. Both clubs will be at different stages every time they meet throughout the year so there will also be different story lines. There are heroes and villains. There is a lot on the line. The saga has new blood and the games have a new meaning. All of the pieces of a great plot are there. Now let's see who the winners and losers are.