Herriman • Sebastian Saucedo’s role this season has been as varied as the theories of how “Game of Thrones” will end. Some games, he doesn’t play. Some games, he comes off the bench for about 20 minutes. Others, he starts.
In previous seasons, the fourth-year homegrown player everyone calls “Bofo” may have pouted about his playing time. He actually did just that during exit interviews last November, where he said he would be unhappy if Real Salt Lake’s front office brought in players who would take away opportunities from the younger players.
So far this year, however, it appears Saucedo has shifted his frame of mind, and coach Mike Petke has noticed. Saucedo started his third game of the season in RSL’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday and tied for the most minute he’s played all season (68).
TORONTO FC AT REAL SALT LAKE
When • Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV • KMYU
Petke said Saucedo has displayed a good attitude since preseason. Part of the reason for that, he said, is more experience in Major League Soccer is helping the 22-year-old grow up.
“He’s much more receptive to how we want him to play and what we want him to do,” Petke said Tuesday after training. “And he’s been extremely hard-working in practice and has a lot of quality in practice. So it’s one of those situations that he earned the right to start against Colorado.”
Saucedo has appeared in nine of the 11 games so far this season and came off the bench in four of the previous five before Colorado. He’s yet to score a goal, but has taken 13 shots, five of which were on target.
The amount of playing time an RSL player gets under Petke can be fleeting. He has not been shy about his approach to giving players opportunities regardless of their status in the league, professional experience, salary or any other factors. In that sense, the way he runs his team can be seen as something of a meritocracy.
That reality has seemed to sink in with Saucedo, Petke said.
“I think that he knows I’m not afraid to make changes, if somebody’s showing something good, to get them in the lineup,” Petke said. “Bofo’s young, but he’s been in the league now for a couple of years. Time goes by quick. You have to make the most of it in every session that you have, every game you have.”
Saucedo has tried to make the most of it. He’s figured out how to make an impact on the field regardless of how much he plays. The most difficult part of coming off the bench, he said, is trying to find the rhythm of the game — something he thinks fans don’t understand fully.
“In reality, the game is at a fast speed,” Saucedo said. “I just try to do whatever it takes when I’m warming up going into that game to get to that speed. That way I don’t end up being so slow and so sloppy on the ball.”
Saucedo admitted he wants a bigger role than he has at the moment. But he also acknowledged that getting to that point will take time. For now, he seems fine with that.
“Obviously I want to be a starter for this team and the opportunities I get, I have to make the most out of them,” Saucedo said. “I feel like I haven’t even given what I can give yet. I just feel like I can give a lot more than what I give. But that comes with time and time for me to be able too take advantage every time I get a game.”