Ending Real Salt Lake’s home field domination could be a difficult task for the Colorado Rapids when the two rivals clash in Utah on Saturday night.
Salt Lake has maintained an upper hand in the Rocky Mountain Cup over the past few seasons in large part because it knows how to get points at home. The Rapids haven’t beaten RSL in Utah since 2007. In 16 road matches since that time, Colorado has 12 losses and four draws. Salt Lake has never lost to its rivals at Rio Tinto Stadium.
One challenge facing RSL (9-9-2, 29 points) in extending that streak is the absence of head coach Mike Petke. On Wednesday, MLS officials suspended Petke for two games and fined him $10,000 for abusive and profane language directed at officials, uncontrollable behavior while being ejected from Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Minnesota FC and public criticism of officials in a postgame press conference.
RSL also received a $10,000 fine as a club for social media posts critical of the officials and the league.
“The only thing I get from the MLS is, ‘stop criticizing the referees.’ I want to know where the referees are at now?” Petke said following the loss to Minnesota. “Why can’t we ask the referees a question? Why can’t we do that? Why can’t we ask ‘Why didn’t you go to VAR?’ ‘Why when the studs are coming up, you just give a yellow card?’ That would make them more human. To the MLS, it would be better for the league. For the fans, for the owners, for the coaches, for the players, to hear from them. And hear their side of the story.”
Salt Lake hopes to bounce back after seeing a two-game winning streak snapped against the Loons. Joao Plata scored a pair of late goals, but they weren’t enough to rally RSL from a 3-0 deficit.
Colorado snapped a two-game losing streak with a 0-0 draw against Houston on Saturday. The Rapids have enjoyed good defensive form in recent weeks. Goalkeeper Tim Howard netted his second clean sheet in the last four games.
A struggling offense is still holding Colorado back and keeping the club from taking another step forward. The Rapids (4-11-4, 16 points) have generated just 22 total goals in 19 matches. Only Seattle has scored fewer goals in the MLS this season.
Colorado coach Anthony Hudson sees progress from his club, but acknowledges there’s still a ton of work left to do.
“I think we did enough to get three points tonight,” Hudson said after Saturday’s match with the Dynamo. “But I think 3-4 weeks ago, we might have lost that game. We’ve strengthened up as a team.”
RSL won the previous meeting between the two teams this season. Salt Lake prevailed 3-0 on April 21 after getting all three goals in the final eight minutes plus stoppage time.
—Field Level Media