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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake's Tony Beltran (2) chases down the ball as Real Salt Lake faces the Portland Timbers, MLS soccer Sunday November 24, 2013 in Porland.
Real Salt Lake out to regain Rocky Mountain Cup from rival
RSL notes » Rival Colorado holds Rocky Mountain award.
First Published May 14 2014 03:08 pm • Last Updated May 14 2014 11:21 pm

Sandy • After hoisting the Rocky Mountain Cup for six consecutive seasons, Real Salt Lake had to look on and watch that other team celebrate winning the rivalry over the Rockies in 2013.

The Colorado Rapids visit Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night as the two sides kick off their 10th anniversary of the historically heated conflict the two Major League Soccer clubs engage in every season.

At a glance

Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake

Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

TV » CW30

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RSL went 0-1-2 against the Rapids in 2013, and the fate of the Rocky Mountain Cup was sealed to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park when the two sides drew 2-2 on Aug. 3, 2013. It was the first time since 2006 that RSL hadn’t kept its grasp firmly on the trophy.

On Saturday night in Sandy, RSL starts its quest to regain the cup.

"Rivalries are important, let’s be honest," defender Tony Beltran said. "Any competition we’re in, we want to win, so of course it’s important to us."

The Rapids enter this matchup 4-3-3 and in fifth place in the Western Conference despite their recent 3-1 loss to Chivas USA on a snowy Saturday afternoon in Commerce City, Colo., last weekend. RSL coach Jeff Cassar knows the first of three regular-season meetings sets the tone for the final two.

"Being a first-year coach, I want to try to win as many things, trophies for the club, and I know it means a lot to the players," Cassar said.

Goals, goals and more goals

A staple under the Cassar regime at RSL is "imposing will" on the opposition. Offensively through its first 10 matches — still, yes, undefeated — RSL is getting the job done. At 5-0-5 and having earned 20 points, RSL has scored 21 goals through 10 matches, a 12-goal jump compared to the nine goals scored through 10 in 2013. Knocking in 21 goals ties the 2010 mark when the club also managed to score 21 through its first 10.

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The five-goal outburst in the club’s first-ever win at Houston on Sunday night continued the trend of scoring first — RSL has trailed just twice all season — and often.

"We want to push and try and impose our will on most teams," Cassar said. "I’m really proud of the starts."

Knocks and returns

Forward Robbie Findley, who underwent offseason knee surgery in mid-December, is expected to make his return to the field this weekend.

Just not on Saturday night.

The RSL attacker is expected to get at least 45 minutes in the club’s reserve-league match Sunday morning against the Rapids’ reserves at America First Field in Sandy, Cassar said. Defender Rich Balchan, returned from his very brief loan to NASL side Carolina RailHawks, aggravated a groin injury, but is expected to be ready for the reserve match as well.

Defender Chris Schuler is back to 100 percent, Cassar said, after missing Sunday’s match at Houston due to a bone bruise in his knee picked up in the club’s 3-2 win at Chicago on May 3. However, youngster Jordan Allen has picked up a knock and is being evaluated by the training staff.


Twitter: @chriskamrani

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