After a loss to the Colorado Rapids in April, Kyle Beckerman sat in the locker room at Dick Sporting Goods Park and told a reporter that falling behind in the Rocky Mountain Cup didn’t bother him much.
It was a Supporters’ Shield and an MLS Cup that Beckerman was after.
But when Real Salt Lake returns to Commerce City on Saturday for the third and final regular-season match with the Rapids, much more than a cup rivalry will be on the line.
A Colorado team that looked woeful at times early in the season has come together and now sits in second place in the West, three points behind RSL.
RSL, meanwhile, suffered its second straight loss but still sits atop the MLS table thanks to losses by Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers.
“This is not the last game, we’re calm and we have to look forward,” RSL’s Olmes Garcia said after Saturday’s 4-3 defeat to the New York Red Bulls. “We weren’t able to get it done today, but we must hold our head high for the remainder of the season because there is still a lot left to play.”
Salt Lake will see the return of Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran from international duty this week. But depending on how much the trio plays against AS Roma in Wednesday’s all-star game, it could affect their availability.
Salt Lake saw the impact a returning player could have, with Alvaro Saborio netting a hat trick in his first game back with the club after nearly a month with the Costa Rica national team.
Beltran will certainly miss Saturday’s rivalry game while serving a suspension for a red card he picked up against Toronto, before leaving for the U.S. men’s national team’s Gold Cup run.
RSL will also be without left back Chris Wingert, who will be serving the second of a two-game suspension for a hit on Sporting’s Kei Kamara.
RSL at Colorado
O Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
TV • Ch. 4