Colorado Rapids get Armas-era breakthrough in Rocky Mountain Cup


The third time’s a charm, right? It certainly was for the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night, getting their first win of the Chris Armas era in their third match of 2024, a 2-1 victory at rivals Real Salt Lake in the Rocky Mountain Cup.

“It was, I think, a resilient performance. Again, I've said we're a young team and I've said we're a good team,” Armas said of the comeback effort.

“I want our fans to fall in love with the team the way I am. Tonight we beat a good team in their building, a tough game where they punched us first, and our guys came back. I'm really proud of our group.”

It’s been four years since the Rapids won in Sandy, Utah. You’d have to go back to a 5-0 stunner on Sept. 12, 2020 to see Colorado take three points from America First Field. Colorado have won the rivalry series once in the past eight years. 

“It's the first [game] in the Rocky Mountain Cup, and we said it was really important. It's important to our fans so it's important to us,” noted Armas. “There's still a lot of work to do to get that trophy back, but that's the first step.”

A landmark Homegrown moment

Cole Bassett’s 70th-minute winner was quite the poetic way to get the victory.

Aside from the quality of the finish, following Rafael Navarro's 43rd-minute penalty kick, it gave Bassett’s 100th regular-season appearance an added level of significance. Signed as a homegrown player in 2018, Bassett has become one of the veteran leaders on this team at just 22 years old.

“It's a privilege to be able to play for this club a hundred times,” the US international reflected after the match. “To cap it off with a goal, it's pretty special.”

“There's a different energy in the room. … I think for us that was kind of key that we just have a belief. We wouldn't have won those games last year, you know?”

Slow, steady improvement

Putting their first win behind them was a slow build for the Rapids.

They suffered a lopsided 4-1 loss at the Portland Timbers in their first match of 2024, then a 1-1 draw vs. a depleted Nashville SC in the second. The incremental steps toward improvement are there, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. Armas didn’t shy away from that fact.

“Listen, we're a work in progress, we have lots of work to do,” he said. “But I've said it all along: It's an attentive group, it's a hungry group. They're young, but they're good… It's an important win for our team because they just need validation for the work that they've done. They come every day and work so hard.”

No rest for the weary winners. Armas and Colorado are eager to build on this momentum, visiting Seattle Sounders FC next Saturday (3:30 pm ET | Apple TV - Free, FOX). 

“Every day I get to work with winners. I see winners and it helps when they win, that it becomes part of your DNA,” Armas expanded. “So we want to keep at it. You know, it's our first one. We'll get right back to work, tomorrow actually.”

Armas added: “We're looking more and more like the team we want to become.”