RSL players take the onus for lopsided home loss against Portland

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Real Salt Lake forward Jefferson Savarino (7)battles Portland Timbers midfielder David Guzman (20) as Real Salt Lake hosts the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018.

Herriman • After Real Salt Lake’s 4-1 loss at home to the Portland Timbers on Saturday, coach Mike Petke was livid. His answers to questions from reporters were terse. The atmosphere in the room was tense.

Petke opened his remarks with taking responsibility for the game. He said it was “on me,” that he got the tactics wrong.

But RSL’s players came to Petke’s defense and put the loss on their own shoulders.

“Yeah, coach said that, but we are players and we are on the field and we decide for everything,” midfielder Damir Kreilach said Wednesday after training. “[It’s] not Playstation that you can put what you want.”

When defender Brooks Lennon saw the game film, he saw various areas where RSL failed to do the right things on the field.

“I just thought we didn’t have enough movement from the start,” Lennon said. “We were constantly playing back. The whole defense — center backs, wingers, outside backs, all that — we were just playing back way too much.”

Lennon said the team had a positive week of training heading into the game against Portland. But he felt the team’s formation ultimately ended up being incorrect.

“We definitely did follow the coach’s plan and we tried to listen to the pregame and all that,” Lennon said. “Ultimately it comes down to us players, and I don’t think we did well.”


When • Thursday, 7 p.m.


When asked Wednesday what he saw on the game film from a tactics standpoint, Petke demurred after pausing for more than 10 seconds.

“That’s between my team and I,” Petke said. “I put it on my shoulders. I accept that. We had a long meeting [Tuesday] and we sorted some stuff out.”

Next man up

RSL will be without midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Sunday “Sunny” Stephen against New England next Thursday due to yellow card accumulation. In addition, four other players — Albert Rusnák, Jefferson Savarino, Joao Plata and Shawn Barry — were all called up last week to their national teams for the international break.

And because RSL’s next game is on a Thursday, it’s possible the team could be missing all six players when it plays New England. That means RSL will have to figure out a way to plug others in and hope it can still pick up a win.

“There’s a ton of options that we have,” Petke said. “We’re one week from the game, so we have plenty of time. We’ve been going through every scenario. … We’re looking at every option that we have.”

Petke added that the four players on international duty will return the day before the game against New England.

Although Beckerman and Sunny will definitely be out, they are still practicing with the team as normal. Lennon said it is at times difficult working with a player in practice when it is known he will be unavailable when it matters most.

But Petke said Beckerman and Sunny in particular have “a huge job to do” in the week leading up to the game against New England.

“They’re going to help get the guys who are able to play ready to play,” Petke said. “They’ve been on the other side of that for a long time. Now, the leaders that they are, the professionals that they are, they’re going to do that.”

Return to Story