The first Rocky Mountain Cup match of 2012 was the Colorado Rapids' chance to make a statement -- they were an elite team, ready to compete with Real Salt Lake, not just in the rivalry, but for an MLS Cup. Statement not made. Salt Lake looked every bit the elite team people believe they are, and Colorado looked at least a step below, as RSL cruised to a 2-0 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.
Alvaro Saborio put Salt Lake on top after just 20 minutes. He snuck in behind the Colorado defense and Tony Beltran spotted him and put a great ball right on his chest. The striker chested the ball down and knocked the ball past Matt Pickens for the opening tally.
While Colorado were flailing around without really threatening, Salt Lake was happy to knock the ball around and wait for their opportunity. In the 57th minute they got that chance and they took advantage, albeit with some help from the Rapids and the referee. Fabian Espindola raced to chase down a long ball and he got to it at the top of the box. The problem is that he gathered it by using his arm, but it went uncalled. Then, once the two Rapids defenders muscled Espindola off the ball, they never bothered to clear it, allowing Espindola to sneak back around and poke it into the net.
In the end, the 2-0 scoreline was probably fair. The Rapids were disorganized when they needed to be organized, and RSL, while not playing their best, were solid. All is the same in the Rocky Mountain Cup.