First leg of 2017 Rocky Mountain Cup goes to RSL with pair of late goals

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With two goals in the last five minutes of the match, Real Salt Lake defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Pablo Mastroeni made one change to the lineup from last week’s contest at Sporting KC – Dillon Powers got the nod in midfield in place of Shkëlzen Gashi. Recent newcomers Mohammed Saeid and Joshua Gatt both made their Rapids debut, coming off the bench for Nana Boateng and Marlon Hairston, respectively.

The Rapids almost took the lead five minutes into the match as Kevin Doyle broke away from Chris Schuler, finding himself with one man to beat. The Irish international looked to put one past Nick Rimando at the near post but the veteran keeper made a one-handed stop, sending the attempt for a corner kick.

At the other end, Zac MacMath – wearing the armband in the absence of Tim Howard – was tested a couple of times via shots from Sebastian Saucedo and Yura Movsisyan.

“I thought it was pretty good,” head coach Pablo Mastroeni said postgame about his keeper’s performance. “He didn’t have much to do today until the latter part of the game. His distribution was good and created some attacking options for us. It was a night of two silly decisions on our part and poor defending in and around the area.

“It doesn’t change anything,” Mastroeni said about Howard’s absence. “We had ample opportunities to put the game away and it’s a game of finishing chances. We did enough tonight to win the game, we just weren’t clinical enough in front of goal and conceded two terrible goals.”

Doyle would eventually get his second goal of the season just inside the thirty-minute mark. Boateng – who had to be replaced shortly after the goal due to an apparent lower back injury – found a streaking Hairston down the left flank. After beating his man, Hairston would find Doyle at the near post to give Colorado the lead.

“Marlon [Hairston] got in a great position and I was just trying to get in the box and get a good connection on it,” Doyle said of the goal.

In the second half, the Rapids dominated the rhythm but could not capitalize on their chances created in the final third, giving Real Salt Lake the opportunity to claw their way back into the match.

Five minutes from time, defender Jared Watts was called for a handball in the box and was shown a straight red card. Movsisyan’s perfectly placed penalty kick beat an outstretched MacMath to tie things up. Three minutes later, Brooks Lennon would tally the game-winner for the visitors with a low shot from just outside the area – stunning the Rapids faithful.

“Tough when you’re 1-0 up and you’re protecting [the lead],” Doyle said postgame. “We were sucker punched with two goals which we’re very disappointed with. Overall, we think we played well but overtime just lost concentration.”

Colorado had not tasted defeat at home in regular season play since the 2015 season finale – a 1-0 loss against Montreal Impact.

The Rapids (1-3-1; 4 points) return to action next Sunday afternoon on the road at Minnesota United FC (4:00 p.m. MT). Last month, Badji and Hairston found the back of the net in Colorado’s 2-2 draw against the Loons at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

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