As painful as it may be, MLS Cup 2013 will be played Saturday and the Colorado Rapids will be watching from a distance. However the pain is not just because the Rapids are not playing, but rather that the club's two long-time rivals will be - Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake.
We know Rapids supporters are fans of the sport and Major League Soccer, so they'll be watching Saturday's final regardless (2 p.m. MT, ESPN and UniMas; C38 Viewing Party at Three Lions Pub in Denver). But while we think we can anticipate the answer, we'll ask the question anyways - who will Rapids fans be supporting?
As you make your decision (if you haven't yet), let's give you some things to think about, considering the Rapids have a history against both finalists, and they also have some common connections with each.
Colorado vs Kansas City:
Way before RSL joined MLS, the Rapids and Wiz / Wizards / Sporting were matching up in knock-out games. Since 1996, the two sides have met nine times where the winner moved on and the loser went home. KC has edged Colorado in 4 of 5 playoff series, but the Rapids have eliminated KC in 3 of 5 U.S. Open Cup matches. That said, KC has knocked out Colorado in the teams' last two meaningful games: the 2011 Playoffs and 2012 Open Cup.
- Regular Season: 51 games | Colorado is 17-21-13, including 14-4-8 at home and 3-17-5 on the road.
- MLS Cup Playoffs: 4 series | KC 3 (2000, 2003, 2011); Colorado 1 (1997)
- Open Cup: 5 single-elimination games | Colorado 3 (1996 2003, 2001); KC 2 (2008, 2012)
Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes once captained the Rapids, and he anchored the Rapids backline in the club's first ever MLS Cup appearance in 1997. He made 100 appearances for Colorado from 1997-1999. Jacob Peterson was drafted by Colorado in 2006 and played 95 total matches for the Rapids in four seasons.
Colorado vs Real Salt Lake:
Colorado fans don't need to be reminded of the pain RSL has caused the Rapids, but here goes: after Colorado claimed the first two Rocky Mountain Cups in 2005 and 2006, RSL took the trophy in 2007 and held it for seven years. Making matters worse, in both 2008 and 2009 RSL not only clinched the RMC but also earned playoff berths with season-finale results against the Rapids: a 1-1 tie in Colorado that eliminated the hosts and a 3-0 win at Rio Tinto that sent RSL on their way to their first MLS Cup. Throw in 2010, when RSL on three occasions snatched victory away from Colorado with stoppage time goals, and...well, that's all that needs to be said.
On the flip side, Colorado has eliminated RSL twice from the Open Cup (2006 and 2007) and this year won back the Rocky Mountain Cup.
- Regular Season: 28 games | Colorado is 10-9-9, including 7-2-5 at home and 3-7-4 on the road.
- MLS Cup Playoffs: have never met
- Open Cup: two single-elimination games | Colorado 2 (2006, 2007)
Kyle Beckerman (155 total games for Colorado), Nat Borchers (87), and Chris Wingert (19) all played for the Rapids before moving on to RSL; Colorado's Nathan Sturgis and Atiba Harris previously played for RSL.