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Sandy • Seven years ago, Real Salt Lake debuted before its home crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium. RSL's opponent was none other than the Colorado Rapids.
That game ended 1-0 in Salt Lake's favor, the franchise's first-ever regular season MLS victory. Ever since then, the winner of the season series has raised the silver, fan-designed Rocky Mountain Cup.
"I think it's a fantastic rivalry," said coach Jason Kreis, who captained RSL in its inaugural season. "Has been since day one."
They're located 16 miles south now at Rio Tinto Stadium, but the team has tacked on even more wins since. Saturday's 2-0 victory over the Rapids kept the Rocky Mountain Cup in Utah for the sixth straight year. RSL entered the weekend with the opportunity the clinch after winning the teams' April meeting.
"It usually comes down to the wire," said defender Nat Borchers, who played for the Rapids from 2003-06. "We usually have to go win it out there in Colorado. It takes a little pressure off. Keep the cup here when we go out there."
Saturday's win came at an opportune time for Real, which was riding its worst six-game stretch since 2007. In its preceding six games, RSL mustered only four points with a victory and a draw. With the trophy in hand it was brought out to the sideline in the 85th minute the team may finally see a decrease in questions about last week's 5-0 loss to San Jose.
"It's just satisfying," Borchers said. "Their fans are pretty good about giving us a hard time when we go over there. They've said some things that are very hurtful to some of our players. Just kidding."
But there was also a somber note to the game. Before kickoff, the sellout crowd of 19,492 took a moment of silence, honoring all those who were affected by the recent movie-theater shooting that killed 12 in Aurora, Colo.
"It's just a very tough day for anybody from Colorado," said Borchers, who played high school and college ball in Colorado. "I'm very glad we were able to do that for them."