2013 Top Moment #2: Winning the Rocky Mountain Cup

Rapids went undefeated versus biggest rivals, claimed back the series trophy

In looking back at 2013, we polled the ColoradoRapids.com staff and asked them to pick their top five Colorado soccer moments of the year. #5 - Awards and Recognition; #4 - Victory in Montreal; #3 - Rout of the Sounders; #2 - Winning the Rocky Mountain Cup.


 

Nine years ago, the fan clubs for the Colorado Rapids and the newly formed Real Salt Lake created an annual derby between the two teams who straddled the Rocky Mountains – the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup. The rules of the competition stated that the team with the most points between their meetings at the end of each season would be crowned the winner. For the first two years, the Rapids were the kings of the Rockies. But in 2007 that all changed, and the Cup resided in Salt Lake for the following seven seasons. Each year, the Rapids set club goals and among the highest of them is winning back the Rocky Mountain Cup – this year was no different.

By August 3, the Rapids were in prime position to reclaim the fabled trophy. Earlier in the season, the Rapids tied 1-1 with Salt Lake in a match where Deshorn Brown, Colorado’s first-round 2013 SuperDraft pick, scored his first professional goal and starting goalkeeper Matt Pickens broke his left arm during a clearance. In the second meeting, Atiba Harris scored the game-winner, as replacement goalkeeper Clint Irwin blocked an Alvaro Saborío penalty kick to win the game 1-0 and put the series at 1-0-1 in favor of Colorado. Heading into the third and final match, all the Rapids needed was a tie and the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup would return to Colorado where it all began.

It would be much easier said than done on this stormy night, as Salt Lake took an early lead with a second minute goal from Ned Grabavoy. The tenacious Rapids responded seven minutes later, though, with a seemingly impossible goal from Deshorn Brown who powered through two RSL defenders to one-touch the ball past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Twenty minutes into the action, the hearts of the Burgundy faithful sank once again when Salt Lake was awarded a penalty kick. Clint Irwin had once before blocked Saborío’s attempt, but could he do it again? As Saborío was preparing his strike, the referees signaled for a lightening delay that sent the players into the locker rooms for an hour. The interruption didn’t faze Saborío, though, who finished his penalty kick cleanly upon the resumption. At halftime, the score was 2-1 against the Rapids and time was running out.

On the other side of halftime, the Rapids returned to the field energized and determined. Second half substitution Jaime Castrillón had the stadium out of their seats when he got on the end of a Dillon Powers free kick, but Rimando was there to save his header.

The mood grew tenser as the minutes crawled by and time after time the Rapids were denied. In the 70th minute, Powers received the ball in the middle of the field and slotted it perfectly to Chris Klute running down the left flank. Klute took a touch and then served one of his perfect left-footed crosses into the area, where Castrillón was waiting and this time made sure to bury it. The stadium erupted as the Colombian danced on the touch line with his teammates.

The remaining 20 minutes were filled with close calls and bated breaths. Shane O’Neill nearly scored a third for the Rapids when he carried the ball through the penalty box and quickly pulled the trigger, but Rimando came up big once again.

Finally the last whistle blew for the final time that night, and although the final score was tied, the Rapids celebrated with their fans the massive victory that was winning back the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup. For the first time in seven years, the ribbons of the trophy were changed to burgundy and blue, and the Rapids hoisted it joyously into the night.