It was a partly cloudy 71-degree day in Harrison, New Jersey. But Real Salt Lake endured some heavy rain in the second half of Saturday’s game against the New York Red Bulls.
After playing scoreless soccer for nearly 60 minutes of play, RSL gave up three goals the span of six minutes and lost its second straight game, a 4-0 blowout to the New York at Red Bull Arena.
“We gave it our all the first half and the second half fell apart,” forward Sebastian Saucedo told KMYU after the game.
The Red Bulls not only spoiled Salt Lake’s desire to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss to Montreal, but also spoiled coach Mike Petke’s return to Red Bull Arena since being fired as coach of the Red Bulls more than two years ago.
RSL was missing Damir Kreilach due to yellow card accumulation, as well as Albert Rusnák, who injured his ankle in Montreal. But even if everyone had been healthy, rested and available, it might not have mattered on this particular evening.
Coach Mike Petke told KMYU that RSL’s structure and shape were good in the first 45 minutes and that the team discussed how well it played in those areas at halftime. But for some reason, that didn’t translate when Salt Lake went back onto the field.
“Our structure and shape went out the window in the second half for I don’t know what reason,” Petke said.
Saucedo said the issue was communication, or lack thereof.
“We lost a lot of communication,” Saucedo said. “We gave up a lot of things that we normally do. That’s what happens when you play against a top team, a good team. If you lose communication, they punish us, and thats what happened.”
When told of Saucedo’s comment’s Petke agreed, adding that communication again wasn’t the only thing that fell by the wayside in the second half.
“There was communication in the first half, there was movement in the first half, there was winning second balls, there was fight and about five or six good transition moments,” Petke said. “Second half, there wasn’t.”
RSL does not have a Major League Soccer game until June 22, when it travels to Chicago to take on the Fire. In between, however, Real will host Los Angeles Football Club on June 11 in the U.S. Open Cup.
The team will have a few days off before getting back on the training field. While Petke was noncommittal about what the focus will be when the team gets back, Saucedo had a broad idea.
“Something has to change,” Saucedo said. “Whatever we do, we have to come back stronger.”