The first leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup features a change from the usual status quo.
Colorado travels to Sandy, Utah to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday looking like the stronger club in the rivalry. The Rapids have not lost in July and are unbeaten over their last four matches. They have allowed just two goals in that stretch while registering a pair of shutouts.
Of course, that success comes with a caveat. Colorado (7-3-3, 24 points) has not played a road match in a month and has just two wins in five road matches this season. Still, the Rapids have the defensive chops to start getting road results. Colorado is allowing only 1.0 goals per game -- second only to Seattle in the Western Conference.
Last weekend's 2-0 win over Dallas extended the club's home unbeaten streak to seven games and gave the Rapids their sixth clean sheet this season.
"It's a real testament to the players and their grit and fight," Colorado coach Robin Fraser said. "This feeling that we bend but we don't really break, it's very much about how they interact with each other and how they play for each other."
Offensively, Colorado has gotten contributions across the board with Michael Barrios, Braian Galvan, Andre Shinyashiki, Cole Bassett and Lalas Abubakar all contributing goals over the last four matches.
Facing a rival strong on both ends of the pitch is the last thing Salt Lake needs right now.
RSL (4-4-5, 17 points) is smarting from yet another home draw. The Los Angeles Galaxy grabbed a point on Wednesday after rallying for a 2-2 result. Salt Lake jumped to a quick 2-0 lead in the first half but ran out of steam after the Galaxy stepped up their aggressiveness and continuously put the Utah club on its heels after halftime.
In eight home matches this season, RSL has four draws and only two wins. Much of the club's inability to consistently pick up three points at home can be traced to defensive lapses and offensive stagnation in the final 15 minutes of matches.
"The mentality just has to be stronger when we get in those situations," Salt Lake coach Freddy Juarez said.
Colorado earned its first-ever win at Rio Tinto Stadium a year ago when the Rapids blasted RSL 5-0. Salt Lake is 15-4-6 all-time at home against its Rocky Mountain Cup rival.
--Field Level Media