Rapids' Season Ends With Loss at Salt Lake

SANDY Utah (From MLS and Rapids Reports) - There's déjà vu but for the Colorado Rapids this is starting to get ridiculous. For the third year in a row Real Salt Lake spoiled Colorado's night -- and season -- by doing just enough to effectively knock the Rapids out of the playoff race and win the Rocky Mountain Cup.
Click here for free video highlights from the match.
Colorado surrendered two first-half goals to Robbie Findley and a late insurance goal to Yura Movsisyan as RSL humbled the Rapids in front of a near-sellout crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"It's devastating said goalkeeper Preston Burpo. "It's devastating for the whole team to have the club not get into the playoffs for the third year in a row."
The Rapids were not quite yet eliminated following the game; Colorado entered Sunday needing the Columbus Crew to defeat the New England Revolution in the final match of the 2009 season to let them back into the playoffs.
However with the Revolution's 1-0 win over Columbus Colorado's season was finished.
With Real Salt Lake needing a win -- and probably by multiple goals -- in order to keep their own playoff dreams alive Colorado knew RSL would come out swinging. The plan was to let Salt Lake run themselves ragged overplay a little bit and then take advantage. But as the Rapids have experienced all too often they conceded an early goal and had to play catch up the rest of the night.
"We didn't do ourselves any favors by going down 1-0 said Rapids Team Captain Pablo Mastroeni. "That's why we're in the position we're in today."
But to Colorado's credit they didn't give up despite going down in the 15th minute. In fact most of their most dangerous opportunities of the night came in the 15 minutes following Findley's first goal. Conor Casey Julien Baudet and Omar Cummings all had golden opportunities stolen by RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
"There were some chances for us said Rapids head coach Gary Smith. "Rimando made two or three excellent saves."
And just when it seemed Colorado were playing well on the cusp of equalizing the match against the run of play Findley struck again to put the game almost out of reach.
"Coming back from 2-0 at halftime is a very very difficult task said Smith.
In the second half Colorado faced a nearly insurmountable lead that they never truly threatened to erase. RSL was able to kill the game off fairly easily punctuated by a late score which gave the final 3-0 margin. One key to their struggles was how difficult Salt Lake made it for Cummings to get loose.
"We denied him the ball a lot and I think that frustrated him said RSL defender Nat Borchers. "They were forced to lump in balls and that's not really his game to win balls over the top. I think that was key."
Unfortunately for the Rapids over the last month and a half too many matches have turned out this way. The Rapids went winless in their last seven games their last win coming Sept. 5.
"We came in needing a results and just like in the last six games before tonight we just let it slip away said Burpo.
Smith is determined in 2010 to not let another season end the way the last three have for Colorado and he was very frank as to what his plan entails.
"We need better players said Smith. "What was very clear tonight was that some of the guys in that changing room are not good enough."
Jeremy Horton is a contributor to MLSnet.com
Rapids AT&T Man of the Match: Nick LaBrocca
Scoring:
RSL- Findley (Espindola Williams) 15
RSL- Findley (Williams) 33
RSL- Movsisyan (Morales) 85
Lineups:
Colorado Rapids: Preston Burpo Drew Moor Julien Baudet Cory Gibbs (Pat Noonan 69) Jordan Harvey (Facundo Diz 87) Kosuke Kimura Mehdi Ballouchy Pablo Mastroeni Nick LaBrocca Conor Casey Omar Cummings.
Substitutes Not Used: Greg Dalby Michael Holody Scott Palguta Matt Pickens Ross Schunk
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando Chris Wingert Nat Borchers Jamison Olave Tony Beltran Andy Williams (Ned Grabavoy 62) Kyle Beckerman Javier Morales Will Johnson Robbie Findley (Yura Movsisyan 62) Fabian Espindola (Clint Mathis 72)
Substitutes Not Used: Pablo Campos Nelson Gonzalez Robbie Russell Chris Seitz
Misconduct:
COL- Baudet (caution; Tactical Foul) 18
RSL- Williams (caution; Reckless Tackle) 25
RSL- Borchers (caution; Reckless Tackle) 35
COL- Casey (caution; Reckless Foul) 39
RSL- Beckerman (caution; Reckless Foul) 58
RSL- Movsisyan (caution; Shirt Removal) 86
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Chris Strickland Greg Boles
Fourth official: Ramon Hernandez
Attendance: 18675