Sandy, UT – For the Colorado Rapids, the second Rocky Mountain Cup clash of the season is not coming at an ideal time.
Colorado has lost four straight in league play to fall to seventh place in the Western Conference with 22 points on the season, and getting a result against Real Salt Lake, a club that is tied for second in all of Major League Soccer with 36 points, certainly appears to be a tall order.
Real Salt Lake is 7-3-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium this season, and the club returns home for Saturday's rivalry match after being on the wrong end of a 5-0 drubbing from the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium last weekend.
Jason Kreis, RSL's head coach, revealed that his side was not into the match psychologically, especially after Kyle Beckerman was sent off in the 57th minute.
"Our team has lacked discipline this season and that especially showed after we went down a man," said Kreis. "Some of our guys sleep-walked through the game tonight. It doesn't get much bigger than this game and I don't know how our guys didn't get up for it."
The Rapids also suffered a disappointing defeat last time out, jumping in front against Toronto FC but ultimately losing 2-1 at BMO Field on Wednesday.
"We're definitely sliding; we just haven't been able to find a way to win," said striker Conor Casey, who nabbed the lone Rapids goal of the night. "It is kind of hard and frustrating right now to be able to really analyze the game. We're losing ground and we have to do something to change things around because we're not doing well and we're not getting points."
Colorado has lost twice in five games in which it has led at halftime, tied with the Los Angeles Galaxy for most in MLS.
"At the beginning of the season we were having good second halves," Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said. "Now, it's opposite. Some of those things, it's the same as before, it's a lack of concentration in our end. We've got to keep working."
Real Salt Lake has already jumped out to an early lead in the Rocky Mountain Cup series, winning the first meeting 2-0 back in April thanks to goals from Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola.