At this point, they’re in as good of shape as they can be at this stage. —RSL coach Mike Petke, on his team
SANDY — Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke said a strong mentality and maintaining fresh players are the keys to success against Seattle Sounders FC in Seattle Saturday.
After a convincing 2-1 win against NYCFC snapped a four-game losing streak Wednesday, the team has a quick turnaround before its next contest. The team had a short 40-minute practice and spent most of it talking strategy.
“It’s never easy when you have three games in eight days, but you have to do more of talking them into the game, rather than doing it," he said.
Despite the tough schedule, Petke said he is confident his team will be physically ready Saturday.
"At this point, they’re in as good of shape as they can be at this stage," he said.
Though the team allowed yet another early goal against NYCFC Wednesday, a switch in mindset seemingly flipped, and the team tightened up in all three phases of the game.
“It was comforting seeing a different reaction from them,” he said, adding, "we're planning on not getting scored on early."
He said aggressive and intelligence from his back line should be catalysts for a solid showing against Seattle.
“Sometimes you get into these situations, and it’s all about how you react on the next one," he said.
Despite four losses in a row and three scoreless games, Petke has seen consistent improvement from the team's play. Even before the win Wednesday, said his team was heading in the right direction.
“This is a team that hadn’t won since August. We have three wins now," he said, adding, "I’m proud of what these guys have done.”
Seattle has its problems with a three-game losing streak. The team has not won since April 29, but Petke said they are not hitting the panic button either.
“I’d be surprised if they’re concerned," he said. "They have so much power, they have so much ability, and they have very good players at almost every position."
Seattle has talented offensive players, led by U.S. men's national team stalwart Clint Dempsey. RSL's defense will need to cut off passing lanes and prevent long runs by Seattle's talented attackers to avoid becoming the catalyst for the Sounders to start a turnaround of their season.
"They’re going to snap out of it at some point," Petke said. "Hopefully it’s not this Saturday."
The addition of forward Jefferson Savarino proved effective early, and the full group of attackers looked on-point in their Friday practice, firing quality shots on net. If the team plays with as much attention to detail as it did late Wednesday, RSL could be tough to beat.
"It's all about the little things," Petke said.