Commerce City, Colo. • Brooks Lennon has become Real Salt Lake’s go-to when an attacking player goes down.
Lennon made his third start in the past eight games in the place of injured winger Jefferson Savarino as RSL fell 1-0 in a crucial game against Colorado on Sunday.
“I’m ready to play whenever and wherever,” Lennon said. “And [coach Mike] Petke knows that. I’m going to give it my all every time I’m on the pitch, whether I’m coming off the bench or starting.”
Lennon was a regular starter for RSL before the team acquired Savarino on loan from Venezuelan club Zulia FC in May.
He comes off the bench in most games he doesn’t start. Lennon was Petke’s choice to replace winger Joao Plata at Montreal on Aug. 19 when Plata stayed in Utah for a scheduled rest. He also started in place of forward Luis Silva when Silva missed RSL’s home game against Seattle three weeks ago with a groin injury.
So, after Savarino suffered an ankle sprain in RSL’s match at L.A. two weeks ago, Petke — saying Lennon and Sebastian Saucedo were two of several possible replacements for Savarino — said he wasn’t concerned.
“Obviously Jefferson’s been performing phenomenally for us and he’s been clicking with the other guys,” Petke said after training Friday. “But for four days of training the week before the game, the other guys have been clicking as well.”
Lennon, an RSL academy product on loan from Liverpool, slid into the talented young winger’s spot for a game with massive playoff implications.
Colorado’s third-minute goal put the pressure on RSL’s offense, which got off 30 shots but failed to hit the back of the net.
Lennon slung in cross after cross and took two blocked shots, trying o break down a defense that was able to sit in against RSL.
“Brooks is a young guy, and I think he’s done great every time he’s gotten the chance this year,” center back David Horst said. “And I’ve loved seeing his maturation from the beginning of the year to this time of the year, and it’s been great seeing him develop.”
After the loss, 20-year-old Lennon addressed the media like he’s been doing it for years.
“It was hard to break them down all night,” he said. “But I think the guys pushed really well, and I think we have a team that’s ‘never say die,’ and we fought till the end. So, we can’t fault that.”