I was listening to On Frame this morning as I drove to work, and something that Dunny said stood out — more than anything else because it’s probably true. The Rocky Mountain Cup probably doesn’t matter anymore.
There’s a lack of discussion and excitement about it this week, which is sort of understandable considering the state of things this season. That said, should it matter more? Is this something that RSL fans old and new should be paying attention to?
In my opinion it should, and it is on us as fans to make it that important.
Allow me to get a little nostalgic.
One of the things that really made me want to dive deeper as an RSL fan was my first away trip, which just happened to be the final leg of the 2011 Rocky Mountain Cup. I had always wanted to go to an away game but things had never lined up, and honestly, I didn’t have anyone to go with. That year some friends got together and headed out to the match. Just before the game, the C10 (committee of 10 - ruling body of the RMC) asked for someone to take the cup out to the game in Denver just in case Colorado won the match and took the cup back. I volunteered and shenanigans followed.
That trip — and everything that happened on it, which we won’t speak of here — entrenched in me a love for the Rocky Mountain Cup and all that it has been and could be to this club and fan base. I loved it. Being part of it all, having my friends be able to present the trophy to the team after we retained, watching Kyle walk over to the fan section, trophy in tow, to celebrate with all of us. The trophy was actually brutalized that year by the players in the locker room (unintentionally) but I think that added to the character of this rivalry. There was a bite to it, an excitement. It mattered.
Why is that sentiment gone?
Over the years this rivalry has slowly and somehow emphatically lost it’s importance amongst both fans and players. Yesterday Kyle Beckerman was asked how he felt about the game and the rivalry and said “Really, it’s just any other game for us. I know it means a little bit more for our fans with the trophy part of it. But for us it’s about getting three points and just keep trying to improve in the season.”
That sentiment reverberates through the fans I asked today and have spoken with in the past. When I talk to them about why, they consistently speak about how they no longer view Colorado as a rival in the first place, and because of that the competition for the cup has become secondary to other competitions/silverware. In all reality, to most, the RMC probably comes in dead last or as a consolation trophy when compared with other available cups that are up for grabs in a given year.
A lot of that comes down to the sheer dominance that RSL has had in this cup over the last 10ish years — which is when the great majority of the fan base have entered the RSL world. This is a cup that for most fans we have always had. It’s probably also fair to say that so many were not around for the moments that made the rest of us hate Colorado to our very cores during that time.
It is, in part, due to that dominance and what could be called uneventful Rocky Mountain Cup matches that fan attention has slipped to other trophies and other rivals. While Colorado will likely be our closest opponent for years to come, they are no longer the team that gets fans blood boiling — at least not like they used to. You all probably feel more anger and loathing about Sporting Kansas City, the Galaxy, or Portland than you do about the Rapids at this point. All of that is fair. We’ve had more heated matches with those teams over the past few years than we’ve had against Colorado. It’s easy to feel more passionate about a match between RSL and SKC at this point, the fire of hatred is stoked more often there thanks to Roger Espinoza and Benny Feilhaber. I can’t even think of the last time that a Rapids player really made me angry ... can you?
Lastly, like I mentioned earlier, there’s also a sentiment that the success that RSL saw from 2009 to 2013 shifted the focus of both the club and the fans to bigger and better things. Our sights are set on MLS Cups, Supporters Shields, and a CONCACAF Championship. In the grand scheme of things it’s almost as if it’s just expected for RSL to win the Rocky Mountain Cup because we’re so used to it. Even in what was a poor year last year we were able to figure at least that one out.
Why should it matter?
Is the history of this cup enough to make it matter? Is the relative closeness of Denver and DSG enough? Should it matter?
I’ve been sitting here for a bit thinking about an argument that makes sense for this. I genuinely want the Rocky Mountain Cup to matter, and I think it’s fading away — even for those of us who have bled (literally, it’s a long story) for that cup. I kinda hate that. It should matter. No matter how heated or cooled off this rivalry is the Rocky Mountain Cup should matter. Even if we’ve won it for 50 years, it should matter.
I want to be able to walk into DSG and sing about how bad Colorado is with my grandkids one day. I want to sit at the Irish Snug and laugh with my friends about all the times we’ve beaten them and how their fans attempts to fight us, destroy our bus, or intimidate us at bars (all have happened) are all pathetic attempts to make themselves feel better about how bad their team is. I want Tim Howard to eat his words from last year. I want them to fire Pablo after we throttle them this year — and then every coach after that should also be fired specifically because they couldn’t beat RSL.
It should matter because it’s the Rocky Mountain Cup. It should matter because Colorado sucks. It should matter because their stadium is garbage. It should matter because their fans suck. It should matter because of that fan that Travis yelled at for 90 minutes straight at an away match. It should matter because of that group that tried to be a ‘firm’ and called on other supporters to fight them when they visited Commerce City. It should matter because “Fake Salt Lake” is stupid and making fun of the amount of alcohol in beer is ridiculous.
When it really comes down to it this rivalry should matter because it’s a Western Conference opponent and there’s 9 points on the line. That should matter enough. The rest will come back with time — it’s bound to happen.