The Colorado Rapids (5-8-4, 19 pts) will cross the Rockies to face Real Salt Lake (8-5-5, 29 pts) at Rio Tinto Stadium for the second leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday, July 9 (8 p.m. MT; Altitude Sports, 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 permanent head coach of the club. Saturday will mark the second leg of the 2022 iteration of the Cup after the first meeting between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw at DICK’s Sporting Goods Park back in April. The Rapids must win on Saturday in order to claim the Cup for a second time in three years; a draw or loss would see RSL retain the trophy.
Colorado enters Saturday’s contest following a 3-2 loss at home against Austin FC on Monday, just their second home loss of the season and fourth-ever regular season loss at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park under head coach Robin Fraser. Meanwhile, RSL are coming off a 3-2 loss of their own, falling on the road against Minnesota United last weekend. Jefferson Savarino recently joined RSL for his second stint with the club and has been involved in all four of RSL’s latest goals. Sergio Córdova, Bobby Wood and Justen Glad currently lead Salt Lake with three goals apiece, while Maikel Chang has been the top provider for the club with five assists in his 2022 account. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath, a former Rapids player, has recorded seven clean sheets this season.
Several players and staff on either side of the Rockies have past connections to their regional rivals. Rapids head coach Robin Fraser began his MLS coaching career in 2007 as an assistant coach with RSL under then-head coach Jason Kreis and went on to win the 2009 MLS Cup with the club. Fraser remained as an assistant coach with Salt Lake until 2011 when he accepted the head coaching position with Chivas USA. Rapids midfielder Collen Warner also got a start of his own with RSL after being selected by the club with the 15th overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. The Denver native went on to make 37 appearances for the Utah side before being selected by the Montreal Impact in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft.
On the other end of the rivalry, Real Salt Lake head coach Pablo Mastroeni, assistant coach Brett Jacobs and goalkeeper Zac MacMath all have ties to Colorado. Mastroeni holds the records for most appearances (225) and starts (217) in Rapids history and captained the Colorado side that won the 2010 MLS Cup; Jacobs was an assistant coach for the Rapids from 2008-11 and lifted the Anschutz Trophy with Mastroeni in 2010. MacMath was loaned to the Rapids from the Philadelphia Union for the 2015 season before being permanently acquired by Colorado in 2016. He recorded eight clean sheets over 31 appearances for the Rapids before being traded to Vancouver ahead of the 2019 season.