Real Salt Lake Wins Wild Game Against Colorado
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – In a roller coaster type of game, Real Salt Lake pulled off a 3-2victory over the Colorado Rapids.
It was the first leg of this year’s Rocky Mountain Cup, a tournament celebrated by both team’s fans. Since the founding of the tournament in 2007, RSL has dominated the matchup, winning 10 of the 12 titles.
With the 3-2 road win over the Rapids on Saturday, RSL is in a great position to claim their 11th Rocky Mountain Cup.
The victory didn’t come easily however. At one point, it looked like RSL had squandered a 2-0 lead.
The Rapids are quite bad this season. They may even end up being historically bad. Following the loss to RSL, the Rapids’ record dropped to 0-9-2. With just two points in the standings, the Rapids are firmly entrenched at the bottom of the Western Conference table.
Losing to the Rapids would have been a major hit to RSL’s ego as a team.
Luckily they were able to overcome two costly mistakes that cost them goals with strong showings by their star field players and a huge save by the usual backup goalkeeper.
2-0 Lead Vanishes
First, Albert Rusnak scored on a penalty kick in the first half to give RSL a 1-0 lead. That play, while finished by Rusnak, was a result of aggressive play by Bofo Saucedo.
The Park City native was attacking in the box, dribbling the ball against Colorado’s 16-year old defender Sebastian Anderson. Saucedo took advantage of the youngster’s inexperience and was able to draw a penalty while moving past him. Rusnak did the rest, burying his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Not long after, Corey Baird, who had been struggling to make a difference in his sophomore season, received an outstanding long ball from Nick Besler and flicked a little chip over U.S. national team keeper Tim Howard. Howard was clearly frustrated, having allowed two goals in a very short amount of time apart.
However, Colorado, the unquestionably worst team in MLS, refused to quit. The Rapids scored their first goal just before the end of the first half and the second early in the second half. Just like that, RSL’s lead was gone and the crowd at Dick’s Sporting Good Park was re-energized.
Both goals were the result of poor defense. The second goal, which came off a corner kick featured especially poor defense by RSL.
Johnson, Putna Come Up Big
Fortunately for RSL, their offense came up with another strike by Sam Johnson. His goal came off a great pass by Damir Kreilach. Head coach Mike Petke was seen screaming and cheering after the goal by Johnson. The Liberian national has given his coach plenty to cheer about this season. With four goals this season, Johnson has been sensation for RSL and has definitely brought an end to the team’s long search for a dependable goal-scorer.
Still, the Rapids deserve credit for their courageous performance. It would have been easy to give up and surrender another loss to a superior team, but they didn’t do that.
They nearly tied it up midway through the second half, but Andrew Putna, filling in once again for the injured Nick Rimando, had a huge save on Colorado’s best player, Kai Kamara.
Still, Colorado kept fighting and near the end of the match, in stoppage time, they nearly tied it up again, but Lalas Abubakar was offsides by no more than a foot and his goal was called off.
In the end, RSL came away with the win in a game that featured several VAR replays. It wasn’t pretty, but it sure was exciting and the club has to feel good about coming away with three points on the road.
RSL will return home to face Toronto FC next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Real Salt Lake matches can be streamed live on KSLSports.com or on the KSL TV app.