Real Salt Lake (2-3-1) now trails Colorado by three points in the Rocky Mountain Cup standings with just one RMC game remaining. The Claret-and-Cobalt will need to beat the Rapids in Colorado on Aug. 3 in order to retain the Rocky Mountain Cup for a seventh-consecutive year.
Colorado MF Atiba Harris put the Rapids on top in the fifth minute. MF Nick LaBrocca started the play, crossing from the left side to FW Edson Buddle at the top of the six-yard-box. Buddle held the ball up and toe-poked it to Harris at the far post, setting up the former RSL man for a left-footed finish from close range.
RSL had its best chance at an equalizer just minutes after Harris’s goal. Referee Chris Penso whistled Colorado MF Dillon Powers for a foul in the box on Claret-and-Cobalt captain Kyle Beckerman, giving the Utah side a penalty kick. FW Alvaro Saborio took the spot kick, but had his shot denied by Colorado GK Clint Irwin, who tipped Saborio’s low drive to the right side off the post and out of play. The save moved Saborio to 12-for-13 all-time on penalty kicks in his RSL career.
Real Salt Lake continued pressing after Irwin’s penalty save, registering a pair of chances in the 18th and 22nd minutes. FW Devon Sandoval had the first opportunity, heading a DF Tony Beltran cross at Irwin from eight yards out. Saborio had the second look, heading a corner kick wide of goal.
The game settled down after that, with neither side registering another opportunity until the 40th minute, when Harris nearly doubled Colorado’s lead. Harris collected a long diagonal ball in the left side of the box, taking a touch toward goal before slamming a half-volley that RSL GK Nick Rimando saved nicely at the near post.
Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis made a pair of changes at halftime, bringing MF Javier Morales on for MF Sebastian Velasquez and FW Olmes Garcia on for Sandoval.
Despite the changes, it was Colorado that came out of the locker room on the front foot, nearly scoring in the 49th minute. LaBrocca got on the end of a Buddle cross at the top of the box, hitting a volley just wide of the right post.
Saborio had chances in the 54th and 65th minutes. The first chance saw the Costa Rican international head a Morales corner kick wide of the mark; the second saw his long-distance drive parried out for a corner by a diving Irwin.
Colorado had another near miss in the 74th minute. Brown got on the end of DF Chris Klute’s cross just inside the penalty spot and flicked a shot toward goal that flashed inches wide of the right post.
Rimando made a great save to keep RSL in the game in the 81st minute. LaBrocca played MF Jamie Smith through in the middle of the field, with the substitute MF running toward the top of the box before firing a right-footed shot that Rimando stopped with an acrobatic leap.
RSL pushed desperately for an equalizer in the game’s final minutes. The Claret-and-Cobalt had a shout for a penalty in the 89th, when it appeared that Klute pulled Saborio down by the jersey inside the box.
Real Salt Lake had one final chance in the 93rd minute, when Beckerman crossed from the right wing to Saborio at the back post, only for the Costa Rican international’s header to fly wide of the far post.
RSL’s next match is next Saturday, April 13 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Claret-and-Cobalt will play three home games in a row following next week’s match at BC Place.