Real Salt Lake tired of being close, and not getting points

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke shouts instructions to his team, in MLS soccer action, Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders, in Sandy, Utah, Saturday, September 23, 2017.

Herriman • With six weeks gone in Real Salt Lake’s season, and only four points to show for it so far, frustration is brewing that the team hasn’t gotten more out of its games. Coach Mike Petke voiced some of that frustration after RSL’s road loss to Seattle.

But after Petke addressed the team in the visitors locker room, the players stepped up and voiced their own frustrations, mirroring the coach’s message that it was time for RSL to start getting results out of games where it has controlled significant chunks of the action.

“It’s getting old to us,” Petke said Tuesday after training.

RSL is on a four-game losing streak. Three of those losses have come when the team has finished with less than 11 players on the field due to four players receiving red cards.


When • Saturday, 7 p.m.


But there have been times this season that RSL has shown it is ready to take the next step in its development as a team, but fallen short of that. Petke mentioned the first 25 minutes against D.C. United, the close loss to Los Angeles Football Club, and the second half against the Sounders as examples of times RSL has been in control of games, but came up short.

Petke said one way to get more results in those types of games is better executing what they work on in practice on the field. Things like defensive shifting, pressuring the middle third, breaking lines and pushing teams to where RSL wants them to go.

“When we get to a game, we have to see that,” Petke said. “And when we don’t, then it’s our fault. It’s not anybody else’s fault. It’s not the referee’s fault. It’s not the opposing team was better than us for the whole game. We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot in certain situations.”

One of the narratives around the team in recent years is just how young the players on the roster are. RSL, along with FC Dallas, have the largest number of homegrown players. It’s something that has been touted as a positive by the organization.

Petke made clear that when he mentioned RSL had a young team, he was not pointing the finger to his younger players or blaming them in any way. Rather, it appears he is looking for his players to usurp the notion that their collective youth translates to losing games they can win or draw.

“Yeah, we have young players, but some of them have been [in the league] for three years, and they have to realize that they’re not a rookie anymore” Petke said. “On the same note, we have experienced players that realize how much experience they have and what they can do. … It’s a total group thing.”

Midfielder Kyle Beckerman said the key to getting over the hump on winnable games is simply getting in form.

“Hopefully as the season goes on, we all get better, we all get a bit sharper and we get more cohesive as a unit,” Beckerman said.

Beckerman, who is in his 20th Major League Soccer season, said it takes about five or six years for a player to start feeling like he has transitioned from being a young player to being a veteran. With experience, Beckerman said, comes the feeling that not only is one ready, but they are also making sure the rest of his teammates are as well.

When asked if it’s still too early for RSL to shed its young skin, Beckerman somewhat agreed, saying he would consider the team to be “pretty young.” At the same time, however, the veteran midfielder believes most, if not all, of RSL’s younger players are already punching above their weight.

“These young guys are mature beyond their years,” Beckerman said. “We are what we are right now. We have to just keep pushing, keep working hard. Hopefully we can find some form this weekend and take it on to the rest of the season.”

Injury update

Petke said Marcelo Silva, who hurt his ankle recently, will be out for a couple of weeks. He added that a change to the starting lineup is coming due to Silva’s injury, and both Nick Besler and Justen Glad are fighting for that spot during this week’s training sessions.