Real Salt Lake retained the Rocky Mountain Cup and kept their playoff hoped alive with a 4-1 smash-and-grab over Colorado Rapids.
Joao Plata scored the opener in the 42nd minute, cutting inside from the left flank in a perfectly crafted counterattacking play, with Tony Beltran dispossessing Colorado and Albert Rusnak feeding Plata a perfect ball. Plata’s low finish under Tim Howard at the near post left nothing in doubt.
Minutes later, during first-half stoppage time, Rusnak nearly doubled the lead, with a timely clearance the only difference between a goal and an extended lead. Then, from a corner, Justen Glad had a golden opportunity from a corner kick, putting the ball at Howard just before the halftime whistle sounded.
Not long after the second half kicked off, Luis Silva netted RSL’s second — his fourth consecutive game with a puts him ahead of Yura Movsisyan for that particular record — with a stutter-step penalty that sent Howard the wrong direction. Jefferson Savarino was the subject of a blocking shoulder to win the penalty.
The 57th minute saw Danilo Acosta off for a particularly awful tackle as he came crashing into a Rapids player from behind well after play had passed him by.
Things leveled in the 77th minute, when Rapids striker Alan Gordon, a second-half substitute, was shown a second yellow card for a forearm to Justen Glad — and with a first yellow for dissent less than 10 minutes earlier, it really ramped up the absurdity and entertainment levels of an already-exciting match.
Video review entered into play late in the second half after Josh Gatt was flagged offside for his headed finish. The goal was awarded, and the call — hardly an obvious error and a clearly difficult one — went the Rapids’ direction.
With six minutes of stoppage time given, things got a bit nervy for Salt Lake, but a late, brilliant run from Silva sealed things up after he scored the perfect counterattacking goal.
Brooks Lennon, second-half sub, placed the cherry firmly on top as he finished a wide-open opportunity created from a Sebastian Saucedo streak down the right flank.
RSL nearly had an earlier opener after Silva finished from an offside position, but it wasn't to be.
Rimando; Beltran, Glad, Horst, Acosta; Sunny, Mulholland; Savarino, Rusnak, Plata; L. Silva