By TYLER GRAY
Real Salt Lake may have tied this battle, but the Colorado Rapids won the war.
After six years, the Rapids were able to wrest control of the Rocky Mountain Cup from their western neighbors with a 2-2 home tie on Saturday night.
Goals from Colorado’s Deshorn Brown and Jaime Castrillon nullified Ned Grabavoy’s second-minute strike and Saborio’s belated penalty after play was suspended due to lightning in the 21st minute. Colorado fought back twice from a goal down to earn the 2-2 result and seal the series’ victory.
Just two minutes into the match, returning U.S. Men’s National team midfielder Kyle Beckerman made his presence known. The seasoned veteran played a blind ball to the back post of the Rapids’ goal, where Ned Grabavoy was waiting. Grabavoy easily got a touch on the ball and sent it into the back of the net to put RSL up 1-0 early.
Colorado equalized through the sheer willpower of rookie Deshorn Brown. Rapids defender Marvell Wynne played a long ball over the top of RSL’s defense towards Brown. The speedy rookie fought off the challenge of Nat Borchers, lashed his leg out and poked the ball past an onrushing Nick Rimando to level the match in the ninth minute.
In the 21st minute, forward Robbie Findley got on the end of a long ball and danced around Colorado defender Drew Moor, who kicked out at the Arizona native. Findley fell to the turf inside the penalty box, and referee Fotis Bozakos pointed to the spot.
In a bizarre decision by Bozakos, play was suspended right after the penalty kick was called and both teams left for the locker rooms.
RSL striker Alvaro Saborio and Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin both had to wait 57 minutes, stewing over the penalty encounter that was to come. The long layoff didn’t seem to affect the Costa Rican. Saborio calmly stepped to the spot and sent his shot low and hard into the back of the net, reclaiming the lead for RSL.
Colorado would not give up as they clawed their way back to a tie in the second half.
Midfielder Dillon Powers played a perfectly weighted ball down the right side of RSL’s defense to a streaking Chris Klute, who crossed the ball right to the top of the six-yard box. Jaime Castrillon ran unmarked onto the end of it and snapped a header into the back of the net, leveling the match for a second time.
The Rapids pushed harded for the win and RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando would be called into action a few times towards the end of the match, notching some spectacular saves to preserve the point for the visiting side.
Here are the match highlights: