Real Salt Lake 5, Colorado Rapids 1 | MLS Match Recap
SANDY, Utah — The Colorado Rapids came into Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday night, poked a finger in Real Salt Lake's eye, and paid for it — quickly.
After taking 1-0 lead, the Rapids gave up three goals in five minutes and RSL coasted to a 5-1 win and a season sweep of their Rocky Mountain rivals.
The Rapids took the lead in the 21st minute on a beautiful goal by Jose Mari. The Colorado midfielder had all kinds of space when a rebound fell to his feet — he had plenty of time to tee it up and fire a 30-yard shot just inside the post for his fourth goal of the season.
But RSL leveled the score 11 minutes later on a great Joao Plata goal. With an assist from midfielder Ned Grabavoy, Plata took the ball inside the 18 and drilled it into the upper right corner of the net past helpless Colorado goalkeeper Joe Nasco.
It was Plata's 13th goal of the season — keeping him atop the RSL scorers' leader board.
And it didn't take long for things to get worse for the Rapids. A minute later, Javier Morales put a corner kick into the net, with what appeared to be a touch off Rapids defender Thomas Piermayr, to give the home team a lead it would never relinquish. It was Morales' 12th goal of the season.
Just three minutes later, Nasco couldn't get the handle on a corner kick, which fell in front of him — just in time for RSL defender Chris Schuler to take it away from him and put it in the back of the net. It was his third goal of the season, and the first he scored off his stomach.
It was also the quickest three goals in the history of Real Salt Lake.
If there was any doubt about the outcome of the game at that point, it was over in the 45th minute, when Plata took a cross from Morales and it deflected off Nasco for an own goal to put RSL up 4-1.
Argentine striker Sebastian Jaime got his first start for RSL, playing 70 minutes. And, while he didn't join the scoring onslaught, he came close. In the 63rd minute Plata gifted Jaime a pass when he might have scored himself, but Nasco came up with a big save.
Nasco's miserable night got worse, however. The Rapids 'keeper couldn't handle Morales' ensuing corner kick, and when he fumbled it, young RSL defender Carlos Salcedo — playing in place of a suspended Nat Borchers — slammed it into the net for his first MLS goal to make it 5-1.
After beating the Rapids 2-1 on May 17 and 1-0 on Aug. 2, RSL had already clinched the Rocky Mountain Cup — the trophy symbolizes regular-season supremacy between the two teams. But Friday's win marks the first time in the 10-year history of the rivalry that one team has swept the other in the season series.
RSL have now claimed the Rocky Mountain Cup seven of the last eight years.
Friday's loss just added more misery to what has turned into a difficult season for the Rapids, who have collapsed in the past couple of months. They're now winless in their last nine games — eight of those losses — and have been outscored 29-9 in that stretch.
The win moved third-place Salt Lake (13-6-10, 49 points) within two points of second-place Los Angeles and four points clear of fourth-place Dallas ahead of Saturday's slate of games.
RSL continues their drive for a top-three finish in the Western Conference on Saturday, Sept. 27, in Vancouver. That same day, Colorado attempt to break their long winless streak, hosting San Jose.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Javier Morales||Two goals off corner kicks, including one technically directly off the corner, and a commanding performance from the playmaker|
|2||Joao Plata||Kickstarted RSL's comeback, and seems pretty much a lock for team MVP in 2014, as well as adding to his MLS MVP candidacy|
|3||Carlos Salcedo||No Nat Borchers? No problem, with Salcedo recovering after Jose Mari's goal, and grabbing his first MLS goal of his own to cap off the win|