COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids (2-1-1, 7 pts) will look to match a club-record unbeaten streak at home as they host Real Salt Lake (3-1-1, 10 pts) on Saturday, April 2, in the first leg of the 2022 Rocky Mountain Cup. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MT and the match will be broadcast on Altitude Sports and Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM.
Since 2005, the Rapids and Real Salt Lake have taken part in one of the most heated rivalries in MLS. The two clubs compete for the Rocky Mountain Cup, a trophy awarded to the winner of the regular-season series between the two sides by a bipartisan committee of supporters from both teams. The regional rivalry added a new layer last year, with Rapids legend Pablo Mastroeni joining the RSL technical staff as an assistant coach ahead of the 2021 season before later being named head coach of the club following the departure of Freddy Juarez in August. Saturday will mark the first leg of the Cup, with the return leg to be played at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 9.
“This is a really interesting rivalry,” said Rapids head coach Robin Fraser. “I’ve been on both sides of it and regardless of how either team is playing on the year, somehow these games are just really hard-fought games. We know that, and going into this, yes, it’s good to be playing the first one at home and have the attempt a to get a leg up at home. But wherever we play them, whether it’s here or there, it’s always a real fight. We know that that’s what it takes to compete with them and to be able to ultimately come out on top.”
Colorado enters Saturday’s match on a three-game unbeaten run following a 1-1 draw in Houston two weeks ago. Canadian international Mark-Anthony Kaye, whose side recently cliched a World Cup berth for the first time since 1986, opened the scoring with his second goal in as many games off a Jack Price first-half corner kick. With his assist on the play (also his second in two games), Price reached 34 assists all-time in Burgundy, tying Terry Cooke for second-most in club history. The Rapids captain, who finished the 2021 season T-4th in MLS in assists (12), currently leads the league with 24 assists off set pieces since 2019.
Salt Lake are coming off a 1-0 loss on the road to Sporting Kansas City. Johnny Russell opened his 2022 account with nine minutes left in the match to hand RSL their first defeat of the young season. Tate Schmitt and Bobby Wood currently lead Salt Lake with two goals apiece, while Pablo Ruiz has been the top provider for the club with two assists so far in the campaign as the Utah side opened the year unbeaten in their first four games.
Beyond preserving their current streak of three games unbeaten this Saturday, the Rapids will be looking to match their longest undefeated run at home during the regular season. From March 12, 2016, to March 18, 2017, Colorado went 19 games without knowing defeat at home in the regular season; Fraser’s side is currently at 18 games heading into the match.
· The Rapids are one win or draw from equaling their all-time unbeaten streak at home in the regular season (19).
· M Jack Price is one assist away from sole possession of second-most assists all-time in club history. His 34 assists are T-2nd with Terry Cooke all-time.
· F Michael Barrios is one goal away from reaching 40 career goals in MLS.
· D Steven Beitashour is 41 minutes away from reaching 22,000 regular season minutes all-time in MLS.
· D Lalas Abubakar is 2 appearances away from reaching 100 MLS regular season appearances.
· M Mark-Anthony Kaye is 4 appearances away from reaching 100 MLS regular season appearances.
· F Jonathan Lewis is 4 appearances away from reaching 100 MLS regular season appearances.