It would have been one thing to end Seattle’s 13-match unbeaten streak with the best performance of the season. But it was even more promising for Real Salt Lake to beat the Sounders 2-0 and still have things to improve on.
“The one thing we talked about early this morning was it wasn’t the cleanest first half,” coach Mike Petke said after Tuesday’s training session. “But mentality-wise we found a way through it. And let me rephrase, I don’t think it was terrible. I just don’t think it was up to our standards.”
RSL’s goal is to win out the remainder of the regular season. At fifth in the West with 41 points and three games to go, it may not have to do so to make the playoffs. However that depends on the performance of the other teams around it, and RSL wants to keep its fate in its own hands as much as possible.
That’s why draw wasn’t going to cut it for Real Salt Lake Saturday.
Petke said that if the game had gone scoreless into the 75th or 80th minute, he was going to move from playing four on the back line to three.
“We were going three in the back that early,” he said.
RSL at L.A. Galaxy
Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
TV • KMYU
Jefferson Savarino’s goal in the 52nd minute saved RSL from making that change. After Luke Mulholland doubled RSL’s lead, Petke subbed in center back David Horst for winger Joao Plata to shift into a more defensive formation.
RSL’s mindset in its upcoming road trip will be no different, Petke said, in that the team still won’t settle for a draw.
Or settle in general, for that matter.
“Our consistent motto that we’ve had this year is keep trying to improve,” Kyle Beckerman said. “No matter if you win or lose or tie you’ve got to try to improve.”
Left back Demar Phillips is close to returning from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for over two months.
He will not be making a rehab start with the Real Monarchs as originally planned, with RSL’s regular season winding down so quickly.
“We’ll see what happens this weekend,” Petke said.
Luis Silva is still working back from a right groin injury sustained in RSL’s Sept. 16 win over Portland.
He will still have to go through a game-like session pain free before returning to play, Petke said.
24 Under 24
MLSsoccer.com is yet again revealing their list of the top 24 young players (under the age of 24) this week, and two RSL players have already received the recognition.
The league began announcing the list from the bottom, up on Monday. The top 10 will be revealed on ExtraTime live Thursday.
Savarino was named No. 22, and Justen Glad took the No. 18 spot. Brooks Lennon and Albert Rusnák also made the 51-player short list, making it still possible for them to claim unannounced positions. While it is doubtful that Lennon will be ranked higher than Glad and Savarino, Rusnák will likely be named to the top 15.