Sandy • Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke still wouldn’t describe himself as a “stat guy,” but over the course of the season he’s started to turn to the numbers more often.

“It really does tell certain things: The chances that we create,” he said at training Friday.

RSL entered Saturday’s match against Portland at Rio Tinto Stadium leading the league in shots per game (15.9) and shots on goal per game (5.4).

“That says that we are, not only in transition but our possession to build, getting at their goal,” Petke said.

Unlike the many counter attack-heavy teams RSL has played in the past couple months, Real Salt Lake has made possession a focus. Even in its two most recent losses, at Vancouver and Montreal, RSL out-possessed its opponents.

It also outshot both teams but fell short in the most important statistic: goals.

“Nobody thinks it’s there yet,” Petke said of his team’s overall performance. “But at our best we like the way we’re playing, what kind of soccer we’re playing, every from transition to finishing to our solid team defending. Everything seems to be going well, but it could always be better.”

VAR around league

Petke said he watched Seattle’s Sept. 9 game against the LA Galaxy in which Sounders defender Roman Torres saw a red card for denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Video review let the call on the field stand.

This week the independent panel rescinded Torres’ one-game suspension.

“I didn’t even think it was a foul,” Petke said. “There’s always going to be flaws in everything. I thought with something like VAR coming in you can’t really argue with a computer. If you have the chance to stop the game, go over it and look, and look, and look and really break it down I think there should be zero room for error.

“While my opinion of the officiating in this league is well-documented, I know that they have a hard time at times. … It’s never going to be perfect, but at the end of the day, I’m glad that the disciplinary committee did the right thing in this situation.”

RSL has already submitted one unsuccessful appeal this season, for a red card Kyle Beckerman received in the team’s previous match against Portland on July 19. The independent panel rejected that appeal, much to Petke’s dismay.