For me, it's all about detail, as much detail as you give them. —RSL coach Mike Petke
SANDY — Mike Petke’s attention to detail was on full display during the final half hour of Real Salt Lake's training session on Friday.
Instead of diagramming on a whiteboard how he wants to attack and defend in certain situations against expansion Atlanta United on Saturday, Petke wants his players to visualize the tactics. So RSL spent those final 30 minutes organized into an 11v11, full-field scrimmage, but nobody was actually playing.
Nearly all of that time was spent discussing options and scenarios as the players simply stood in their positions. Petke touched on goal kicks, corner kicks, run of play and other scenarios.
“For me, it’s all about detail, as much detail as you give them. Just reinforce and put them in scenarios, and at the end of the day if the players listen to it and they apply it, we should have a result, and if we don’t hats off to the other team,” said Petke, who is 2-0 in his first two games as RSL head coach.
That attention to detail is one of the ways Petke is trying to reshape Real Salt Lake after taking over for Jeff Cassar who was fired three games into the season.
“Coaching staff are doing our best to give them as much information and as much detail as possible so it makes the game easier. That doesn’t necessarily translate to wins, but it puts us in a better position,” said Petke.
Real Salt Lake hopes that detail translates into a third-straight win when it hosts Atlanta on Saturday (KMYU, 7 p.m.). The club is 7-1-2 all-time against expansion teams on its home field.
Atlanta is 2-2-2 in its debut season, but is coming off a frustrating 2-1 loss at Montreal last week after conceding stoppage-time winner.
Prior to that loss Atlanta had earned back-to-back draws at Seattle and at Toronto, so it’s a team that’s more than capable of coming to Rio Tinto Stadium and stealing points.
“They’re extremely dynamic with the ball, almost every single one of them in transition, they are speedy, efficient, dynamic and very capable with the ball. Our balance is going to be key,” said Petke.
When RSL has the ball, Petke said playing quick will be key.
“If we allow their press to slow our build out, it’s going to crush us,” said Petke.
Real Salt Lake was strong at times against Colorado last weekend, but also struggled to string much together during other stretches. It still managed to eke out a 2-1 victory over 10-man Colorado with a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes, momentum it hopes to build on against Atlanta.
Keeping the ball and dictating the pace will be crucial against Atlanta.