The Colorado Rapids delivered an embarrassing performance Saturday night that saw two players get sent off for violent and reckless play amid a six-goal rout by Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Real Salt Lake. Colorado was utterly dominated by Salt Lake across the entire match and the 6-0 result was the most-lopsided victory in the rivalry’s history.
Minutes into the first half, Damir Kreilach drifted away from his marker (Tommy Smith) in the box and was wide open for a cross from Joao Plata. Kreilach buried his chance and Salt Lake took an early lead. Four minutes later, Niki Jackson appeared to head-but Albert Rusnák in the box. Referee Ted Unkel did not hesitate to produce a red card, and the Video Assistant would confirm the call.
The Rapids – now down to ten men – continued without making any changes for twenty minutes, with Jack McBean taking charge of the attack up front. Twenty minutes after the red card was given, Jefferson Savarino doubled RSL’s lead after Dillon Serna failed to clear a loose ball out of the Colorado’s box.
Anthony Hudson, desperate to reverse the Rapids’ fortunes, brought on Giles Barnes to provide an ounce of creativity for Colorado in the final third. It would never materialize.
Just as it had appeared that the Rapids might escape the first half without any further self-destruction, Bismarck “Nana” Adjei-Boateng – already on a yellow card – delivered a reckless and cynical challenge on Salt Lake’s Brooks Lennon. Boateng made no attempt to play the ball and after consulting the replay, Ted Unkel issued the second red card of the night.
A demoralized Colorado returned to the second half and delivered precisely the performance that was to be expected of a team playing with nine on the field. The Claret-and-Cobalt were merciless: Savarino scored his second in the fifty-eighth minute, Plata would add his first of the night ten minutes later, substitute Corey Baird notched his sixth of the season in the seventy-fourth, and Rusnák capped off a night by delivering the final goal.
The result ensured that the Rocky Mountain Cup would stay with Real Salt Lake for another season. The Rapids failed to secure a single victory across three matches with their rivals.
“I have to apologize to the fans,” Anthony Hudson immediately stated in the post-match press conference. “Coming away after the result, it’s not what they deserve. We apologize, we can win this come next season. Not a good night for us.”
“No excuse,” Niki Jackson said on social media of his red card, “Live and learn.”
Colorado will certainly have some time to learn before their next league match, which does not take place until September 8, where the Rapids will face the Portland Timbers on the road. In the meantime, Colorado will travel to Memphis to take part in a friendly honoring Tim Howard.
Image Credit: Isiah Downing