Rocky Mountain Cup Will Be Decided Wednesday Tonight!

ColoradoRapids.com - The Rapids travel to Rice-Eccles Stadium Wednesday night to take on Real Salt Lake in the two teams' final match-up of 2005.

(For the full match preview of this match including projected lineups the latest injury report miscellaneous game notes broadcast information head-to-head stats and more visit the Rapids MatchUp Page by CLICKING HERE.)

A win against Salt Lake coupled with a loss by the LA Galaxy on Saturday vs. San Jose would mean that the Rapids could leapfrog into the #3 spot in the playoff standings. For full details on the Rapids' playoff picture dates and scenarios CLICK HERE.

The Rapids will also be looking to claim the inaugural Rocky Mountain Cup in this important match against regional rivals Real Salt Lake.

The Rapids currently hold the lead in the competition's standings having a 6-3 advantage in points and a 4-2 advantage in goal differential. With a win or a tie Wednesday night the Rapids can claim the trophy outright. The Black & Blue can also claim the trophy even if RSL wins depending on the score of the game.

For the full details on the standings and rules of the competition visit RockyMountainCup.com the official competition website run by C10 (the Committee of 10) a fan-based supporters organization dedicated to the intra-league rivalry between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer clubs in partnership with both teams.

Several fans from Colorado have organized a road trip out to Utah for the match. Any fans interested in joining the Rapids supporters at Rice-Eccles stadium on Wednesday night are eligible for a group discount. This deal is only for tickets bought over the phone and will not be available at the ticket windows on game day. Rapids fans interested in joining the supporter’s group traveling to Salt Lake City for Wednesday’s game should call the RSL ticket office at (801) 924-8559 and ask for the "Rapids Supporters Discount".

Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake Match Preview
By MLSNet.com

RICE-ECCLES STADIUM
SALT LAKE Utah
7:30 pm MT
This match will not be televised but fans can listen to the action live via audio webcast by CLICKING HERE.

The Rocky Mountain Cup will be decided in the final meeting between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids in the regular season finale for both teams. For the Rapids there's also a little bit more incentive - a victory against RSL and they have a chance still to move ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy into third place in the Western Conference. But the battle for bragging rights in the Rockies has been closely fought all year and while the Rapids currently hold the advantage each team has held serve in their home stadiums.

REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): David Bragg; JAR (opposite): Anthony Vasoli; 4th: Feliciano Palomino
MLS Career: 95 games; FC/gm: 30.7; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 21; pens: 34
Games involving Real: P2 W1 L1 T0; FC/gm: 28.0; Y/gm: 4.5; R: 1; pens: 1
Games involving Rapids: P14 W6 L4 T4; FC/gm: 30.1; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 5; pens: 4

INJURY REPORT:
REAL SALT LAKE - OUT: FW Jason Kreis (L knee partial ACL tear); DF Paul Broome (L ankle internal derangement); QUESTIONABLE: DF Brian Dunseth (L calf tendon strain); PROBABLE: MF Seth Trembly (L knee contusion); DF Nelson Akwari (L groin strain); MF Nikolas Besagno (R ankle sprain) ...
COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: MF Matt Crawford (R hip strain); PROBABLE: GK Joe Cannon (L abdominal strain)

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:
RSL: Seth Trembly (6 add'l CP) ...
COL: Kyle Beckerman (19 CP) Eric Denton (16 CP)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES:
RSL: Gustavo Cabrera (Guatemala; v Mexico Oct. 8); Eddie Pope (USA; v Costa Rica Oct. 8); Robert Scarlett (Jamaica)
COL: None

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (3 meetings): Real 1 win (0 shootout) 2 goals ... Rapids 2 wins 4 goals ... 0 draws
IN SALT LAKE (1 meeting): Real 1 win (0 shootout) 1 goal ... Rapids 0 wins 0 goals ... 0 draws

This is the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs the second in Salt Lake the final of two in the last 10 days. The teams are competing for the Rocky Mountain Cup and the ownership in the first season comes down to tonight's match with the Rapids holding the edge.

If the teams finish level on points at the end of the season series - which would happen with an RSL victory - the next tiebreaker is goal difference in the series. If Real wins by two goals on Wednesday that would also be level meaning the next tiebreaker is away goals where Real currently hold the edge by virtue of the solitary goal they scored in the last meeting.

Fans of the Rapids and Real joined together to work with the clubs to organize and promote the Rocky Mountain Cup. Known as the Committee of 10 the supporters group is spearheading an effort to celebrate the competitive soccer spirit of the Rocky Mountain region. The Rocky Mountain Cup is being developed by like-minded supporters and fan organizations such as the RSL Loyalists and RapidsFan.com.

Coaches record: Fernando Clavijo vs. RSL: P3 W2 L1 D0 ... John Ellinger v COL: P3 W1 L2 D0

THIS SEASON
-Colorado has won two of the three meetings thus far this season but home form has won out each team winning on their own ground. Real won 1-0 in Utah on April 16 then the Rapids won 2-0 on Sept. 21 in Denver and 2-1 in Denver on Oct. 1.
-Real Salt Lake made the first-ever home game in club history something to remember as a late goal gave them a 1-0 victory - the expansion club's first in history.
-A crowd larger than the listed MLS capacity filed in to see the first home match for expansion Real and they weren't disappointed. Nine minutes from the end Clint Mathis whipped in a free kick from the right flank that bounded through the packed penalty area where defender Brian Dunseth came crashing in at the back post to send a diving header past Rapids goalkeeper Joe Cannon and give the Utah club its first win.
-The Rapids got a pair of second-half goals to defeat Real 2-0 in Denver on Sept. 21 leaving the Rocky Mountain Cup level on the season.
-Jean-Philippe Peguero opened the scoring just after the start of the second half. His speculative shot hit a defender and bounced straight up in the air - but Rapids defender Eric Denton was first to it in the RSL area. He poked it back to Peguero and he made no mistake driving it past D.J. Countess (49).
-The Rapids put the game away in the 87th minute under bizarre circumstances. The ball was played somewhat towards RSL midfielder Andy Williams at midfield but he made no move toward it and instead appeared to have suffered a leg cramp. Terry Cooke quickly intercepted and streaked down the wing before sending in a cross that found a wide-open Dedi Ben-Dayan who settled the ball before curling it into the far corner of the net for his first career MLS goal.

LAST MEETING

-On Oct. 1 in Denver Real took an early lead but the Rapids came from behind getting a late goal in a 2-1 victory.
-Clint Mathis gave Real Salt Lake a dream start in their bid for a first-ever road win. Robert Scarlett sent a high cross from the left touchline and Mathis hit a remarkable first-time full volley looping the ball over Rapids 'keeper Byron Foss.
-But Colorado pulled level in the 39th minute as Dedi Ben-Dayan scored his third goal in as many games. Jean-Philippe Peguero wriggled out of a tight spot in the corner and drove in a low cross that Ben-Dayan sidefooted home for the equalizer.
-Then four minutes from the end Jeff Cunningham provided the winner thanks to a neat combination from the pair that connected for the Rapids' first. They played a nice one-two on the left side of the area the Israeli international this time sending in a low cross and Cunningham sliding in ahead of an RSL defender to poke the ball home.
-Here's Clavijo's team (4-3-1-2): Byron Foss - Dan Gargan (Hunter Freeman 89) Pablo Mastroeni Nat Borchers Eric Denton (Ritchie Kotschau 89) - Terry Cooke (Jeff Cunningham 64) Kyle Beckerman Dedi Ben-Dayan - Alain Nkong - Jovan Kirovski Jean-Philippe Peguero
-Here's Ellinger's team (3-4-1-2): Jay Nolly - Brian Dunseth (Nelson Akwari 38) Eddie Pope Gustavo Cabrera - Chris Brown Kenny Cutler Brian Kamler (Leslie Fitzpatrick 74) Robert Scarlett - Clint Mathis - Jordan Cila Melvin Tarley (Jamie Watson 71).

REAL SALT LAKE
-Real Salt Lake ended their losing streak at 10 games but still couldn't break through in the win column becoming just the second team in MLS history to fail to win on their travels over an entire season settling for a 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night at Spartan Stadium. RSL has 20 points from their 31 matches on the season fifth place in the Western Conference just two points ahead of Chivas USA.
-The events of the day had given the Earthquakes the Supporters' Shield before a single ball was kicked. But the home side were still aiming to be the first team in MLS history to go through the entire home portion of their season unbeaten while Real were trying to keep from joining the 2003 Los Angeles Galaxy as being the only team to go winless on the season away from home.
-The Quakes got the start they needed scoring twice within seven minutes late in the first half to take a seemingly unassailable lead. Dwayne De Rosario hit first in the 38th minute after a bit of opportunism his attempted pass in the area coming right back to him where he knocked it home.
-Then rookie Julian Nash scored his first MLS goal finishing off a fast flowing move out of midfield turning inside a defender at the top of the area and lashing a low shot inside Jay Nolly's right-hand post (44).
-But Real pulled a goal back through some good fortune a cross from Kevin Novak from the left corner sailing over everyone in the goalmouth and somehow slipping inside the far post as goalkeeper Pat Onstad frantically scrambled back for it (64). RSL then hit for the equalizer nine minutes later on a terrific goal Jaime Watson driving in a cross from the left side where Andy Williams steamed in at the back post and hammered home an acrobatic first-time volley.
-But it wasn't enough to stop history as the Quakes ended the year unbeaten in their 16 league games in San Jose while Real claimed just a second draw in 16 games on the road - the first coming in their first-ever match.
-Real head coach John Ellinger made three changes to the team that lost 3-1 to D.C. United at midweek at home. Jay Nolly came back in for D.J. Countess in goal while Seth Trembly and Kevin Novak came in at the wide midfield roles replacing Robert Scarlett (international duty) and Adolfo Gregorio.
-Here's Ellinger's team (3-4-2-1): Jay Nolly - Chris Brown Nelson Akwari Brian Dunseth - Seth Trembly Kenny Cutler Brian Kamler (Leslie Fitzpatrick 64) Kevin Novak (Nikolas Besagno 89) - Clint Mathis (Jamie Watson 64) Andy Williams - Melvin Tarley
-"The effort was actually good both halves. I just think we were unlucky in the first half. Second half the ball seemed to bounce our way for a change Ellinger said. "It was good to see. Obviously we would have liked to have the win but when you play the best team in the league on their home field and they're unbeaten here we'll take a point."

TEAM NEWS
-In Real's opening game they played to a scoreless draw with the MetroStars at Giants Stadium on a miserable night. It took them 29 more games - 14 on the road - to come away with a result on the road.
-"[The tie] gives us a great feeling said Ellinger. "I'm proud of the effort and the fact that we came back from two [goals down]. The target coming in was to get our first road win but we come out with our first point in a while so we'll take it that way."
-"Everybody is smiling tonight because we came back said midfielder Brian Kamler. "It's been a long time since we've been able to do that."
-Kamler said a larger commitment to getting players into the attack was the difference in the team's second half performance. "I think in the second half we were just a lot more dangerous said Kamler. "Instead of having one guy in the box we had two or three guys in there."
-As satisfying as the result was for RSL it was doubly so for Novak. Not only did the midfielder enjoy an impressive first start but his goal capped a remarkable comeback journey of his own. The Loyola Marymount product tore his lateral collateral ligament in his knee late in his senior season and faced a year of rehab and playing without a club.
-On the recommendation of his college coach Paul Krumpe Novak was invited to training camp as an undrafted rookie and did enough to impress Ellinger that he was given a developmental contract. Novak bided his time throughout the season and has now made the most of his two late season appearances.
-"Throughout my career I've always had to be patient said Novak. "I knew what it was going to be like coming in because I was almost like a walk-on type of player. I just decided I was going to work hard and hopefully my chance would come. It's towards the end of the season but I'm happy all the same."

COLORADO RAPIDS
-The Colorado Rapids extended their unbeaten streak to five games still with a chance of moving up in the Western Conference after a scoreless draw Saturday night with FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. The Rapids have 42 points from their 31 matches three behind third-place Los Angeles Galaxy with one game to be played by both teams.
-FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids played to a dour scoreless draw where substitute goalkeepers made the few saves required in order to keep clean sheets.
New Argentine signing Dario Sala made his MLS debut and became the first international goalkeeper in FC Dallas history while Byron Foss once again deputized for the injured Joe Cannon for the Rapids though the pair were required just seven saves on the night (five for Foss).
-The point was enough to pull FC Dallas two points clear of the Los Angeles Galaxy in second place in the Western Conference though a victory would have ensured home-field advantage in the conference semifinals. With the teams having split their season series though FC Dallas currently hold the advantage in the tie-breaker if they finish level in the table seven goals better on the season differential.
-The Rapids can still claim third place in the West with a victory Wednesday against Real Salt Lake and a Galaxy loss at home Saturday against San Jose. The two teams would then be even in points and after they split their season series it would first come down to goal difference where Colorado currently holds a slim one-goal edge.
-If the teams end up with the same goal differential it would then go to total goals scored on the season where the Galaxy currently hold a four-goal advantage.
-Rapids head coach Fernando Clavijo made four changes to the team that settled for a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA in Denver at midweek. Hunter Freeman Ritchie Kotschau and Ricky Lewis all came back into a rebuilt back four with Mike Petke suspended and Dan Gargan and Dedi Ben-Dayan returning to the substitutes' bench in the shakeup.
-Jeff Cunningham also returned to the starting lineup coming in for Jean-Philippe Peguero in attack.
-Here's Clavijo's team (4-1-3-2): Byron Foss - Hunter Freeman Nat Borchers Ritchie Kotschau Ricky Lewis (Dedi Ben-Dayan 58) - Kyle Beckerman - Terry Cooke Alain Nkong (Jean-Philippe Peguero 46) Eric Denton - Jeff Cunningham Jovan Kirovski.
-"We played well and I'm a little bit unhappy because we could have come out of here with three points. We created chances and they were only dangerous when we gave the ball away Clavijo said. "We just need to finish our chances because we can't miss those types of chances in the playoffs."

TEAM NEWS
-At the half Clavijo made a tactical shift bringing on Jean-Philippe Peguero for Alain Nkong and putting Jovan Kirovski into a playmaking role. He then went back to three in the back when Dedi Ben-Dayan came on just before the hour.
-"They played with one forward. We tried to open it up in the second half and we did in the second part of the game. We had a couple of good chances a couple of great saves by the goalkeeper but fine tuning is what we need to do for the next couple of games said Clavijo.
-Byron Foss starting a fifth match in place of Joe Cannon made five saves on the night. "It was a good performance by the team as a whole defensively said Foss. "We kept it tight and it looked like FC Dallas was playing for a point by keeping one player up top. We dealt with it well."
-If the seeding stays as it currently is Colorado will match up against the top team in MLS and Western Conference the San Jose Earthquakes.
-"We fear no one we respect them like we respect Dallas and L.A. said Clavijo. "But we fear nobody and they are going to be able to see what Colorado is going to show on the field. We are ready to play anybody who we have to play in the playoffs."
-After scoring goals in four consecutive games Ben-Dayan was relegated to reserve duty for the FC Dallas match. Even in his 32 minutes he nearly gave the Rapids a late goal only to have his close-range bid stopped by MLS debutant Dario Sala in the FCD goal. "It was close but almost does not count in football you know. But I'll try and score and help Colorado in the next game and in the playoffs he said.
-The Rapids will be bolstered by the re-addition of Mike Petke returning from suspension and Pablo Mastroeni who was not kept by U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena for their match Wednesday against Panama after starting and playing the full match in the 3-0 loss to Costa Rica. The decision was pre-arranged so Mastroeni would not miss two club matches with the USA already qualified for the FIFA World Cup Finals.
-"We're looking forward to having those two guys. We know how important those guys are to the team so it will be good to have them in the lineup and get one game with the lineup that we think that we're going to use in the playoffs Clavijo said. "We'd like to have a few more games with that but circumstances didn't allow it.