Mike Petke turns RSL’s break into a mini-preseason camp

First Published      Last Updated Jul 11 2017 10:45 pm

Real Salt Lake notes » It’s chance for coach to make mark on team.

Sandy • Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke wasn't hired until after preseason this year, so this two-week break between matches will have to do as a stand-in.

"The three days that we had before yesterday's day off were very intense," Petke said. "They were very much run like a preseason, a lot of fitness stuff with the ball, and then we ended with a 60-minute game with real referees on Sunday. And we saw some great things out of them."

Petke said he plans on maintaining that intensity through the next two training sessions and then tapering off as RSL nears its next league match against Portland on July 19.

"Coming off of a 6-2 win [at Los Angeles last week] when guys are firing on all cylinders, a lot of times you want there to be a game very shortly afterwards so you can build that momentum," Petke said. "But the good thing, like I said, is during the last — today included — four days, we have not seen a dip in mentality, form, or anything.

"They've really taken that game and are starting to run with it, and knowing now what we're really capable of when, a) they listen, and b) when they put everything out there on the field."

As he would have in preseason, Petke has used the past week to fully implement new concepts, especially the ones that worked well for RSL in the Galaxy game.

One of those adjustments was pushing outside backs Tony Beltran and Demar Phillips up.

"It gives more attacking options," center back Justen Glad said. "It kind of opens the game up, and really if the center backs can hold it down it helps a lot."

Before heading to Portland, RSL will get to test its new tactics in an exhibition match with Manchester United at Rio Tinto Stadium at 8 p.m. Monday.

Lennon progressing

Brooks Lennon, the 19-year-old homegrown player, who sprained his ankle in training last Friday, was cleared to jog Tuesday.

"Brooks is like my 12-year-old," Petke said, "he could have a broken leg and he wants to run around. Which is great, you want that eagerness and that desire from a player, but he hasn't done any cutting yet or certain game movements. But from a running standpoint it's great to see him already running around, and the quicker we have him back in, the better we're going to be."

According to Petke, they still do not have a timetable for Lennon's return.

More ankle injuries

In the past two weeks three RSL players, including Lennon, have suffered ankle injuries.

Forward Ricardo Velazco was carried off the field at training Tuesday with a right ankle injury. The exact injury had not yet been diagnosed by the afternoon, per RSL communications.

Before last week's game at L.A., goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel suffered a high ankle sprain. There is no timetable for his return either, Petke said.

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Manchester United at RSL

Monday, 8 p.m.