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Real Salt Lake falls to Colorado with atrocious 5-0 home loss, coughs up Rocky Mountain Cup in process

Colorado Rapids players celebrates their fifth team goal scored by midfielder Cole Bassett (26) during an MLS soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.
Colorado Rapids players celebrates their fifth team goal scored by midfielder Cole Bassett (26) during an MLS soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.
Yukai Peng, Deseret News

SANDY — Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect Real Salt Lake to beat Colorado every game this season.

After prevailing against Colorado in both earlier meetings — including a win in Colorado just a few weeks ago — RSL got off on the wrong foot early on Saturday in its bid for the clean sweep of its Rocky Mountain Cup rivals.

Diego Rubio scored in the third minute and then again in the 10th minute, early goals that Colorado rode to the 5-0 win in front of 4,484 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium.

It was the worst home loss in franchise history, as RSL squandered a chance to vault as high as second place in the Western Conference standings with a win. Instead, it remains stuck in the middle of a congested conference in which six teams sit on 14 and 13 points.

“We have to keep going, be positive, it’s just one game. It’s not nice to lose 5-0, but right now it is what it is, we have to accept this and move forward,” said Damir Kreilach, who also apologized to fans for the performance.

In addition, Colorado won back the Rocky Mountain Cup with Saturday’s result. Only home games counted toward this year’s competition, and despite losing 4-1 at home three weeks ago Colorado found a way to win the season series 6-4 on aggregate to claim the Cup for the first time since 2015.

Whether it was fatigue or not with coach Freddy Juarez making just one change to the starting line-up he used in Wednesday’s win against Los Angeles FC, RSL was sluggish from the outset.

“We believe they should’ve been ready, I think it was more mental than anything else — and a team that also came not scared of anything and playing well by the way. I know they weren’t winning games but they had three ties in a row, playing good soccer,” said Juarez.

Colorado’s dream start began with a corner kick. Andrew Putna tried punching the ball away, but he only got a fingertip on it as he misjudged the flight of the ball. It ricocheted off a couple players at the back post and Rubio was in perfect position to poach the third minute goal and the early 1-0 lead.

It wasn’t the fastest goal RSL has conceded this season though. That came against Kansas City in the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando when Johnny Russell scored in the first minute.

Just like in Orlando, RSL didn’t recover from this early deficit.

In the 10th minute Rubio struck again, this time on a great bit of individual skill. He won the ball in the air against RSL defender Justen Glad, created space away from Glad and then cracked a shot from distance just inside the far post for the 2-0 lead.

RSL had a couple of chances to over the final 35 minutes of the first half to try and cut into the lead, most notably Corey Baird who put a great chance wide before halftime.

In the second half things quickly went from bad to worse.

Sam Vines pushed the lead to 3-0 in the 49th minute on a pass from Younes Namli, who got around Donny Toia far too easily to deliver the pass.

In the 55th minute Braian Galvan pounced on a sloppy giveaway at the back to increase the lead to 4-0 — and then nine minutes later any hope of the greatest comeback in franchise history was extinguished when Douglas Martinez was red carded after the ref used VAR.

“We need Douglas to mature from that, we told him already in the locker room,” said Juarez.

Cole Bassett added an 88th minute goal to officially seal RSL’s worst home loss in franchise history.

“There were a lot of things that went wrong today. I picked the lineup, I picked the game plan and it didn’t work obviously,” said Juarez.

After the match Everton Luiz took issue with taunting by Galvan during the match, and ran after him right after the final whistle. The two had to be separated as the teams came together with some pushing and shoving.

“You don’t like people taunting. We’ve never taunted when we’ve gone and won multiple times in Colorado, and we had a player who was taunting there,” said Juarez. “It’s a young player, I get it, you still don’t do that type of stuff.”

Additional suspensions may come from the altercation, but heading into 2021 you can bet the rivalry will be a bit more heated than it’s been in years with Colorado taunts.

With the loss RSL wraps up its first wave of games after the Orlando tournament with a 2-2-2 record, with all six games being played during a hectic 21-day stretch.

It will now have a week to rest before another busy stretch of three games in eight days beginning next Saturday at home against Vancouver.