Herriman • It would be easy for RSL to look back at Saturday’s 2-0 loss to league-leading LAFC and view it as a squandered opportunity, considering the home side went a man up for a time and had a few chances to put some pressure on.

And while there was, indeed, a little bit of lingering woulda, coulda, shoulda at Tuesday’s practice at the Zions Banks Training Center on the RSL Academy campus, there was a lot more encouragement, a great deal more positivity that a team which has lost only twice in its past 10 games is headed in the right direction.

“Obviously it sucks losing, especially at home, but I would say we played well, we've played really well lately, and we just need to take that into the next game,” said Corey Baird.

Interim coach Freddy Juarez noted that while the loss to LAFC meant that “we get in the locker room, we're all upset,” there was a bigger picture to keep in mind, which is that between Aug. 10-17, RSL came away with six points in a span of three games.

“The week in total makes it easier,” he said. “You play three games in [eight] days, you get two positive results and one not. There's not many teams that get three wins in a week. So that made it easier.”

Asked what he could do to help RSL maintain its “hot streak” going into this Saturday’s home game vs. Colorado, Juarez balked at the phrase, feeling it implied the recent results were better than the play that has accompanied it.

The key, he clarified, is simply continuing to get better — improving those things that have not been good, and amplifying those which have.

To that end, defender Nedum Onuoha praised LAFC for its discipline and tenacity, noting, “Even when they went down to 10 men, it didn't necessarily make them weaker. That's what all the teams should try to aspire to be.”

REAL SALT LAKE VS. COLORADO RAPIDS
At Rio Tinto Stadium


When • Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • KMYU

Moreover, he added, while LAFC has been “the best side in the league this year by a mile,” RSL’s players came off the Rio Tinto field Saturday night feeling not as though they’d been overwhelmed, but rather that they “didn’t play as well as we had our previous games.”

Baird reiterated the postgame consensus from Saturday night that going up a man in the 47th minute created an unnecessary rush to put a ball in the net, which led to reckless attacks, which led to out-of-position defense, which ultimately led to the LAFC counterattack that resulted in an RSL red card and a penalty kick that swung the momentum and the game.

“While I think while we were a lot more dangerous on the ball,” Baird said, “we needed to manage the game a little bit better.”

So it was interesting to see that while Tuesday’s practice could have been a somber affair, it was actually quite the opposite.

A good deal of the session saw players limited to a single touch of the ball on scoring attempts. The point of the exercise, Juarez said, was to encourage more movement and better group cohesion.

And, he pointed out, the results spoke for themselves.

“The spirits of the guys have been positive. Today, they’re celebrating goals in a 7v7 game; that speaks volumes on how they’re feeling right now,” Juarez said. “There’s many times that these sessions are quiet. And you have, without my encouragement, without the staff’s encouragement, them scoring and celebrating that in a 7v7. That just shows where they’re at right now mentally.”