COMMERCE CITY, Colo. ― The Rocky Mountain Cup and a spot in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs are up for grabs when the Colorado Rapids (14-5-9, 51 points) visit Real Salt Lake (11-11-8, 39 points) on Saturday, October 16. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM at Rio Tinto Stadium, with pregame coverage beginning on Altitude Sports and ESPN+ at 7 PM and on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 at 7:15 PM.

The Rapids can clinch a second playoff berth in two full seasons under head coach Robin Fraser with a win on Saturday. With six regular season games remaining, the Rapids are third in the Western Conference, one point behind second-place Sporting KC. RSL is in fifth in the West, just two points ahead of eighth-place Vancouver for one of the final three playoff spots. Colorado must win on Saturday to capture its sixth Rocky Mountain Cup title.

“It’s a huge task to go there and beat them knowing that the Rocky Mountain Cup is on the line and knowing that they’re trying to get into the playoffs and secure a playoff spot, as are we, there are a lot of emotions going into this game,” Fraser said after training on Thursday. “You expect it to be a pretty tense affair.

“At the end of the day we need to play well, we need to continue to improve in both areas of the field, offensive and defensive, and we need to get a result,” Fraser continued. “At the end of the day, we don’t ever want to lose track of what the big goal is and the steps to get to the big goal involve becoming better week in and week out.”

This is the third meeting of the season between the Rocky Mountain rivals. RSL picked up a 3-0 win in Utah on July 24. The Rapids came from behind to secure a 2-1 win at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on August 21, with goals from Diego Rubio and Mark-Anthony Kaye. The Rapids are 7-1-6 since the loss in Utah, and their 1.93 points per game are tied for the second-most in MLS in that time. Saturday’s match closes out a three-game road trip and is the first of five games in 16 days.

Colorado is coming off a thrilling, 3-1 win in Minnesota on Sunday. The Loons took an early lead before the Rapids were reduced to 10 men when Danny Wilson saw a straight red card in the 57th minute. Fraser’s men stormed back, with Cole Bassett equalizing from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute and Keegan Rosenberry and Jonathan Lewis combining up the right wing to find Michael Barrios for the go-ahead tap-in in the 84th minute. Barrios and Auston Trusty assisted on Lucas Esteves’ first goal with the club to ice it in stoppage time. William Yarbrough made three saves to earn his 14th win of the season.

The win secured a three-game season sweep of Minnesota, the Rapids’ first three-game sweep since 2016 against Sporting KC. The match also saw Drew Moor become the third active player to reach 400 career MLS appearances. It was Colorado’s seventh road win of the season, setting a new post-shootout era club record.

Barrios’ goal was his team-leading eighth of 2021, his highest single-season total since he set a career high with nine goals in 2016. Bassett scored his fourth goal of the season, and on Tuesday was ranked No. 10 on MLS 22 Under 22, his third consecutive year on the list. Wilson will serve a one-match red card suspension on Saturday.

A Rapids win on Saturday would secure their first successful defense of the Rocky Mountain Cup since 2006. Colorado faced a tall order in its quest for the Rocky Mountain Cup in 2020. After dropping the first match, 4-1, the Rapids needed to make up a four-goal deficit on aggregate and came up with a 5-0 win, the largest margin of victory in club history and their first ever at Rio Tinto Stadium. It remains RSL’s largest home defeat ever.

“It was huge last year when we brought [the Rocky Mountain Cup] home,” Bassett said. “Being a part of that was huge, the way we celebrated in the locker room. We went there down 4-1 and came back and won 5-nil. That was one of the best moments of my career so far was being in that locker room afterwards after that type of performance. It means a lot to the fans and the fact that they weren’t there with us last year hurt a little bit because they couldn’t celebrate as much as we could, so we would love to bring it in front of our fans now that they’re all back. That would mean the world to them.”

Rapids midfielders Kaye and Kellyn Acosta are expected to be available for selection after returning from international duty. Acosta extended his streak to 19 consecutive USMNT appearances as the U.S. picked up six points from wins over Jamaica and Costa Rica, while Kaye and Canada earned five points in the October window. Concacaf World Cup Qualifying standings

Salt Lake has enjoyed two weeks’ rest since losing, 2-1, in Austin on October 2. Damir Kreilach scored his 13th goal of the season, tied for fourth-most in MLS, in the loss. Albert Rusnak has started all 28 matches for RSL and leads the club with 10 assists. He is expected to be available for selection after playing Slovakia’s recent World Cup qualifiers, as is starting goalkeeper David Ochoa, who was with the Mexico U-21s. RSL is 4-4-0 since Pablo Mastroeni took over as interim head coach on Aug. 27. Mastroeni was Rapids captain when they won MLS Cup in 2010 and coached the Rapids to their best regular season finish ever in 2016. Mastroeni’s No. 25 became the first to be retired by the Rapids on July 4.

The Rapids could also clinch a playoff spot regardless of their result on Saturday night. Below are all possible clinch scenarios for the club.

Playoff Clinch Scenarios

The Rapids will clinch a berth in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs on Saturday if:

  • Colorado Rapids win vs. Real Salt Lake


  • Colorado Rapids tie vs. Real Salt Lake AND
  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC lose or tie vs. Sporting Kansas City AND
  • LA Galaxy lose vs. Portland Timbers


  • Colorado Rapids tie vs. Real Salt Lake AND
  • Minnesota United FC lose vs. Austin FC AND
  • LA Galaxy lose vs. Portland Timbers AND
  • Los Angeles FC lose or tie vs. San Jose Earthquakes


  • Colorado Rapids tie vs. Real Salt Lake AND
  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC lose or tie vs. Sporting Kansas City AND
  • Minnesota United FC lose or tie vs. Austin FC


  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC lose or tie vs. Sporting Kansas City AND
  • Minnesota United FC lose vs. Austin FC AND
  • San Jose Earthquakes lose or tie vs. Los Angeles FC

News & Notes

  • A Rapids win on Saturday would secure the club’s sixth Rocky Mountain Cup title and mark their first successful defense of the Cup since 2006.
  • A Colorado win would also be the club’s 300th all-time. It would also be the 15th of the season, tying a post-shootout era club record set in 2016.
  • Colorado earned its third win after conceding the first goal on Sunday in Minnesota. The Rapids are 3-4-2 when conceding first, which is fourth-best in MLS. Colorado came from behind to defeat RSL, 2-1, on Aug. 21.
  • The Rapids tied for the league lead with 11 goals off set pieces. Colorado and RSL (and Minnesota and RBNY) are tied for the fewest set piece goals allowed with four.
  • The Rapids have 21 players with at least one goal or assist this season, tied for second-most in MLS.
  • Keegan Rosenberry’s next appearance will be the 160th of his MLS career and his 80th with the club. His two goals and three assists this season are both tied for career highs.
  • Jack Price’s next appearance will be his 100th with the club. The captain is three assists away from tying Terry Cooke for second-most in Rapids history (34).