The Colorado Rapids extended their regular season home unbeaten streak to 19 on Saturday night after drawing Real Salt Lake 1-1 in the first leg of the 2022 Rocky Mountain Cup series at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. Defender Lalas Abubakar and winger Michael Barrios combined to secure the equalizer in the 56th minute and earn one point as the Burgundy Boys extended their current four-game unbeaten run this season.

The previous 19-game unbeaten home unbeaten record was set from March 12, 2016 to March 18, 2017 and ended with a home defeat to RSL. The goal from the visitors came on via a penalty, marking the first time this season the Rapids conceded a goal at home in all competitions.

“You talk about 19 games unbeaten, it speaks volumes to the character of the team and the approach of being here,” said head coach Robin Fraser. “And then obviously the other piece is our fans. And it's such a cool thing for me when we build a good attack and we get across midfield and you start to get behind me you can hear the excitement in the audience. This is a great place to be to have as your home field. We love where we are. We love the altitude we're at. We love where the fans are.”

Defender Keegan Rosenberry was caught unlucky in the 18 right before stoppage time was called as his defending of Justin Meram was deemed a foul by official Ted Unkel. The ensuing penalty kick was converted by Pablo Ruiz to put RSL up by one going into halftime.

The Rocky Mountain Cup is notorious for its dramatic moments on either side of the pitch, and Saturday was no exception. The stats spoke for themselves after the physical first half: 11 total fouls were committed, including one yellow card and the play that earned RSL its penalty kick. Those numbers greatly increased by the time the final whistle was blown as both teams contributed seven more fouls and three more yellow cards. Colorado outshot Salt Lake five to two in the first 45 but none could find the back of the net.

The Rapids responded with urgency early into the second half, as they were awarded a free kick mere yards outside the box in the 55th minute. Rubio’s strike hit the wall, but was collected and dished out to Barrios on the wing, who served a low ball into the far side of MacMath’s goal to find Abubakar charging into the six.

The center back’s perfectly-timed run following the set piece earned him his third goal in burgundy overall, his last occurring in August on the road against Houston.

“I thought it kind of typified the way Lalas plays, work hard to get on the end of something, slide in and score an equalizing goal at home in an important game,” said Fraser. “And I think for me it epitomizes who he is and how he plays and certainly is valued to us.”

Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough and his defense dominated in the second half, keeping RSL to just one on the night after making a superb save in the 76th minute. His support from the backline remained steadfast for the entirety of the game.

The Rapids will take RSL on again for the second and final time in the 2022 Rocky Mountain Cup on July 9th. With only two games in this year’s edition of the rivalry series, everything is on the line when the two sides meet again.

Up next, Colorado will travel to FC Dallas on Saturday, April 9th to chase their first home win of the 2022 season.