As if any meeting between the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake needed any extra incentive, we have two heading into Saturday's series finale between the two Rocky Mountain rivals (6:30 p.m. MT - BUY TICKETS).
The game on August 3 will not only decide the winner of this year's Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup, but it will also pit the top team in the West - Salt Lake - against the second place team - Colorado, who are only three points back.
And, not only is first place in the Western Conference at stake, but potentially the best record in the League.
How's that for incentive?
These are the types of games that any competitive athlete wants to play in. These are the types of games that every fan wants to be at. These are the games that can strengthen a rivalry and raise it to another level.
Colorado's win over LA on Saturday extended the team's undefeated run to six in-a-row. At about the same time the Rapids were finishing their home match, RSL saw their valiant comeback from a two-goal deficit against the New York Red Bulls squashed as NY scored two last-minute goals to win 4-3.
Those two results - combined with losses by Vancouver and Portland - set the stage for this season's series finale between Colorado and Salt Lake. And, it's hard not to look east, knowing that the leading Eastern Conference teams - Sporting KC (36 points), NY (35 pts), and Montreal (35 points) - could also be leap-frogged should they lose or tie next weekend.
After tying and defeating RSL in the first two games this year, the Rapids need a tie or win on Saturday to bring the supporters' trophy back to Colorado for the first time since 2006.
Initially, that may have been enough. But while many of the players and team personnel have changed, fans from both sides know the history all too well. And, unfortunately, the bulk of the painful memories are held by Colorado fans (which they know don't need to be reminded of).
Saturday's match - beyond the standings and the Rocky Mountain Cup - now has the opportunity to create new memories for Rapids fans.
And they have reason to be optimitic. The tide has turned against RSL, with the Rapids holding a 2-0-1 edge over the last three meetings. And the team flipped the switch to the RSL match within minutes of defeating LA (watch video above). Think they'll be ready?
A tie on Saturday would bring the RMC back to Colorado and trigger celebration amongst Rapids fans. A win? Well, that could do so much more for the fans, the team, and the rivalry.
Highlights of last match between Colorado - Salt Lake: