COMMERCE CITY — Real Salt Lake is the Colorado Rapids’ bogeyman. Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup defeat in the Round of 16 only confirmed it.
Looking to reach the Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2007, Colorado instead lost to its rival for the second straight match, 1-0. Jefferson Savarino’s game-winning curling effort in the 30th minute was the difference at DSGP. More sleepless nights could be ahead, as the teams will face off twice more in the 2023 season.
“I mean, without talking very candidly and explicitly, it makes you lose sleep at night,” defender Keegan Rosenberry said after the game. “You don’t like losing to teams in this league in general, but RSL is a team that just eats at you a little bit more. It’s been interesting to learn from the supporters about how much it means to them as well, and it hurts us just that more to feel that for them.”
In the 24th minute, Colorado had its best chance of the first half when center back Moïse Bombito won the ball back after he initially gave the ball away. On the ensuing possession, Sam Nicholson took three touches and ripped a shot that hit the crossbar and stayed out.
Six minutes later, the visitors capitalized after yet another defensive mistake. Andreas Maxsø gave away the ball at the center circle and it went into the path of Savarino. He dribbled without Colorado effectively closing him down, and picked his shot perfectly with a curling effort into the top-right corner that backup goalkeeper Marko Illic couldn’t save.
Colorado tried to mount a response as Bombito and Michael Barrios had dangerous crosses into the box but the Rapids were unable to get a runner onto the passes. The teams went into the half with RSL holding onto its 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Colorado made additional substitutes such as Jonathan Lewis coming on at halftime, and later on Calvin Harris, Connor Ronan, Danny Wilson and Anthony Markanich. Colorado would have two chances, a shot from Ronan which threatened and Lewis also hit the side netting. The Rapids had a few set-piece chances but couldn’t convert.
“I appreciate the fact that you can see the good because a lot of times it does come down to results and that’s all you see,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said. “We are in a results-oriented business and I love the fact that we do a lot of things really well but we still need to get over the line in terms of making good plays and winning games. … I appreciate that the guys give everything they have and at the end of the day, we just need to get a little sharper in the critical moments.”
Colorado is still searching for its first home win of the season. Up next is FC Cincinnati, which has the best record in the league at 9-1-3 (30 points), at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
How bad does Rosenberry want to smash the bogeyman in Salt Lake in August and on Decision Day to end the season? He’s already dreaming about it.
“We can get better results for (the fans) and I hope they know we’re doing everything we can … to get these results, to compete and to smash somebody. I mean, my goodness, my yellow card tonight was so late and so bad and if VAR could’ve been a red card, probably. But you’re almost happy to leave something on RSL if you’re down in the game. So hopefully my frustration is reflected in my comments.”
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