COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Rocky Mountain Cup is staying with Real Salt Lake for the third straight season.
And RSL clinched it in emphatic fashion.
Damir Kreilach and Jefferson Savarino (twice), Joao Plata, Corey Baird and Albert Rusnak all scored as Real Salt Lake smashed Colorado 6-0 Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. It was the biggest margin of victory in the 43-game series between the Major League Soccer rivals.
“We wanted it bad,” goalkeeper Nick Rimando said after the game on the television broadcast. “We wanted it for the fans and we wanted for ourselves. It’s a hard-fought win. I can’t express how good those three points feel.”
Those three points helped RSL solidify its playoff position (and its goal differential). Real is in fourth place with 41 points, just two points behind Los Angeles FC and three points ahead of LA Galaxy, which RSL will host on next Saturday in Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL started the day with a minus-8 differential, which is used as a tiebreaker for playoff position. The Claret and Colbat are now just minus-2. The two teams that trail RSL, — Galaxy and the Portland Timbers — are plus-1.
“It’s huge,” RSL head coach Mike Petke said of the victory. “We put some distance between us and some of those teams. Every point, every game matters.”
It was a dream start for RSL.
RSL captain Kyle Beckerman started things off with a great through ball to Plata, who cut it back to the sliding Kreilach to give RSL the lead in the sixth minute. Just three minutes later the team found itself up a man when Niki Jackson was shown a red card after head-butting Albert Rusnak in the run-up to a corner kick.
In the 33rd minute, Colorado failed to clear the ball from the penalty area and Savarino pounced, driving a shot past goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Twelve minutes later Bismark Adjei-Boateng caught Brooks Lennon on the knee with his studs.
Petke was especially proud of how his team played before Colorado went down two players.
“We had a specific plan going into this game, and you see the guys were up for it,” Petke said.
The second half turned into a laugher as RSL scored in the 58th, 69th, 74th and 86th minutes. Kreilach almost made it 7-0 in stoppage time, but the goal was disallowed on a tight offside call.Comment on this story
Rimando, who returned after missing a game due to injury, picked up his 144th shutout as RSL outshot the Rapids 13-1.
That one shot was not saved by Rimando, but by defender Aaron Herrera, who tracked back to save Kortne Ford’s header off the goal line with RSL just leading 1-0.
“I didn’t say anything. That’s my job,” Herrera said at halftime after he was asked on the the television broadcast if he celebrated after the play. A goal at that point might have changed the course of the match.