Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids Draw in Rocky Mountain Cup Opener

Fresh off frustrating road losses to LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps, Real Salt Lake was forced to settle for a scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids in a nationally televised home match on Sunday afternoon. Even though the two sides logged a number of chances (the teams combined for 31 shots), and RSL frequently looked dangerous on the day, each squad managed only a single shot on goal.

The best chance of the day came to Colorado in the 89th minute after RSL’s Aaron Maund, who had came for Jamison Olave in the 6th minute after the Colombian center back received an early injury, was whistled for taking down Colorado’s Luis Solignac in the penalty box. But the pressure of facing one of MLS’s all-time greatest PK stoppers got the better of Dillon Powers, and his ensuing penalty kick was pushed wide of the right post.

RSL had a number of chances to claim a game-winning goal, including Joao Plata blasts in the 24th and 84th minutes (one blocked, one wide), an Alvaro Saborio header in the 38th minute (wide), and a Javier Morales shot on the final play of the match (blocked).

The match marked the first time this season that RSL was able to field its first-choice forward corps of Saborio, Plata, and Sebastian Jaime. While the grouping showed promise, the trio nevertheless lacked the necessary quality to finish in the final third.

While RSL’s forwards returned to health in this match, the rest of the starting 11 was depleted by injuries and international call-ups. Besides Olave’s early injury and replacement by Maund, Elias Vasquez once again filled in for the rehabbing Chris Schuler, and John Stertzer received the starting nod while Kyle Beckerman is away with the U.S. Men’s National Team for June friendlies in advance of this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.

Both RSL and Colorado have the week off to recuperate in advance of U.S. Open Cup matches on June 16, when the Claret-and-Cobalt will welcome USL side Sounders 2 to Rio Tinto Stadium and the Rapids welcome their USL neighbor Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.

Take Aways

  • Javier Morales notched a game-high 7 key passes (i.e., a pass followed by a shot that did not result in a goal). In spite of his “advanced age” (Morales is 35), RSL’s midfield maestro has continued rack up offensive statistics at an enviable pace. His 3 goals and 2 assists on the season are both team highs, in spite of having missed 4 games on the season.
  • For how well Sebastian Jaime has played in his limited time with Real Salt Lake, it is stunning that he lacks any solid offensive stats to show for it. No goals, no assists. Just an incredible work rate and, to a degree, terrible luck.
  • A sort-of-surprising, sort-of-not statistic: at -5, Real Salt Lake has the worst goal differential in the Western Conference and third-worst goal differential in MLS (Philadelphia Union at -7 and New York City FC at -6).
  • RSL has been whistled for 5 penalties this year. Opponents have converted only 2, with Nick Rimando saving a pair and Dillon Powers missing the frame altogether today. Even though Rimando did not save Powers’s PK, there can be little doubt that shooters try just a little harder to keep shots outside of Rimando’s reach, narrowing their margin for error and increasing the pressure to take a picture perfect shot. So, in a way, Rimando did cause today’s miss, even though he dove the wrong direction.

About Heath Waddingham

SLC-raised and BYU-educated. RSLTID.