Sandy, UT – The Colorado Rapids have come up short in each of the past six seasons against Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Real Salt Lake, but the Rapids will try to take a step toward reversing that trend on Saturday when the two sides meet up at Rio Tinto Stadium.
For the Rapids, a win would be huge considering the fact that the club has opened its season with back-to-back losses.
But Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni knows how tough it is to leave Rio Tinto with three points.
"For us, it is [the best rivalry]," Mastroeni said of the matches with RSL. "You step in that stadium, you know what you're about to encounter - some fans that are going to be over the top and make your day warming up during the game and post game as miserable as they can."
Losses to FC Dallas and the Philadelphia Union have put the Rapids in a bit of a hole. But there is no better team for the club to be playing in order to get the competitive juices flowing.
"There's some other atmospheres in MLS - Seattle, Portland - that are fantastic, but for some reason when we go to Salt Lake, that place is as loud as any place we play," Rapids defender Drew Moor said. "They're certainly saying stuff that you wonder how they found out info about you. It makes it fun. It's a healthy respect, we enjoy going there to play, I'm sure they enjoy coming here to play. It's a great rivalry."
The rivalry may be one-sided, but RSL head coach Jason Kreis knows better than to underestimate the Rapids.
Both of Colorado's defeats have come by one goal, and Kreis feels as though it is only a matter of time before things start to come together for his opposite number, Oscar Pareja.
"[They are a] good team, hungry team," Kreis said. "Probably outplayed their opponent in their first two matches. A team that I think is really understanding exactly what is asked of them from their new head coach last year, and a team that is extremely hungry at the moment because they have lost their first two games - a very, very dangerous opponent for us."
RSL started the year in impressive fashion with a 2-0 win against San Jose before falling 1-0 at D.C. United.
Salt Lake has had to do without key players Javier Morales and Nat Borchers due to injury in its first two games, and both players are unlikely to feature on Saturday.
But the crowd at Rio Tinto will certainly be up for this one as it is not only a match against Colorado, but also the home opener for RSL.