It proved a costly match for the Colorado Rapids as they squared off against Real Salt Lake in the first of three matches that will determine who takes home this year’s Rocky Mountain Cup. Starting goalkeeper Matt Pickens, colliding with Real defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe on a corner kick, fell to the turf with a broken forearm four minutes into the match. Instead of turning to backup Steward Ceus, head coach Oscar Pareja tabbed 23-year-old offseason signing Clint Irwin to take Pickens’ place in the net for the Rapids.
Colorado would get on the scoreboard first, as Deshorn Brown — the 6th overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft — scored his first professional goal in the 37th minute. Taking advantage of Chris Schuler’s fanned clearance, Brown pounced on the loose ball. Bearing down on Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando, Brown showed veteran poise as he waited for Rimando to make his move before tapping a right-footed shot past for the go-ahead strike.
Real would get their own chances in the first half, but inaccurate shooting and Irwin’s strong play in net allowed Colorado to enter the intermission one goal up. Kyle Beckerman’s 31st-minute attempt went wide, the midfielder missing a superb opportunity, and ten minutes later Luis Gil’s blast would be nabbed in midair by the backup keeper.
The game grew more physical as time ticked away, and both sides were having a hard time generating quality scoring chances that challenged the respective keepers. Tony Cascio nearly put the Rapids two goals ahead in the 78th minute; his inability to beat Rimando would prove costly two minutes later, as Alvaro Saborio finished off a build-up from Luis Gil and substitute Joao Plata to ruin Irwin’s inaugural appearance for the Rapids, striking on the half-volley past the outstretched keeper to level the match.
Salt Lake would nearly cough up another goal in the closing minutes as Colorado threw caution to the wind, but Rimando was there to fend off every onslaught and the two Rocky Mountain rivals were left without a decisive result. They square off again at Dick’s Sporting Goods on April 6 in the second leg of the battle for the Rocky Mountain Cup.
COLORADO RAPIDS @ REAL SALT LAKE
Rio Tinto Stadium
March 16, 2013
- 37′ — COL/Deshorn Brown (unassisted)
- 80′ — RSL/Alvario Saborio (Joao Plata, Luis Gil)
- RSL (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Lovel Palmer (Devon Sandoval/79′), Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Tony Beltran; Kyle Beckerman; Khari Stephenson (Ned Grabavoy/45′), Sebastian Velasquez; Luis Gil; Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley (Joao Plata/67′)
- COL (4-3-3): Matt Pickens (Clint Irwin/7′); Brian Mullan, Diego Calderon, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne; Kevin Harbottle (Nick LaBrocca/65′), Hendry Thomas, Dillon Powers; Tony Cascio, Deshorn Brown (Jamie Smith/80′), Atiba Harris