I know they're going to come back motivated. I've already spoken with them, in shape because they've been working their butts, and ready to roll for RSL. —MIke Petke
SANDY — Having three of its own young players called into U.S. National Team camp earlier this month further validated the strong youth movement going on with Real Salt Lake.
But what about the fact none of them actually played in Sunday’s camp finale friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina?
It was undoubtedly a bittersweet feeling for Justen Glad, Brooks Lennon and Danilo Acosta, but one that RSL coach Mike Petke expects them to learn from.
“That goes to being a professional. Sometimes it’s going to work out, sometimes it’s not. Certainly it’s not the end of the road because they didn’t feature in the Bosnia game,” said Petke.
Petke would’ve liked to have seen at least one of the RSL trio feature in the scoreless draw on Sunday night in Carson, California, but acknowledges that he wasn’t at U.S. training sessions leading up to the match and can’t fairly criticize any of those coaching decisions.
Foremost on Petke’s mind is that Glad, Lennon and Acosta will be joining Real Salt Lake in Tucson, Arizona, on Wednesday for the next phase of training.
“I know they’re going to come back motivated. I’ve already spoken with them, in shape because they’ve been working their butts, and ready to roll for RSL,” said Petke.
The fact they’re returning healthy is a big relief.
Last March, Glad injured his knee in the final game of the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 qualifying and missed the first 3½ months of the season. He made his debut on June 17 and started every match the rest of the season.
RSL’s record after he returned was 9-5-4 with 20 goals allowed. Without Glad, the club was 4-10-2 with 35 goals allowed.
BACK IN THE FOLD: Sunday Stephen, who was a no-show for the first few days of Real Salt Lake, is officially back training with the club.
RSL picked up the third-year option on Stephen’s contract this offseason, but his reluctance to report to the start of preseason last Monday seemed to indicate he wouldn’t honor that option year in his contract.
He’s been back with the team for a few days now and exclusively just been running on the sideline during practice to get his fitness level up.
“Sunny and I have had two very good conversations. My plan for Sunny, it’s like my plan for everybody else — I want the best of Sunny, I want him bought in, I want him committed just like every player. And it’s important for me to say just like every other player, ’cause it’s not just a Sunny thing. Sunny is a focal point because he did arrive a little bit late, but everybody has the same expectations, buy in, show up every day, be a part of the team and do not be a distraction,” said Petke.
Stephen started 15 games as a midfielder for Real Salt Lake in 2016, and then 18 more last season. He’s scored one goal and recorded two assists in 36 total appearances with the club.
RSL PREVAILS IN SCRIMMAGE: Real Salt Lake wrapped up the first phase of the preseason on Monday night with a scrimmage against the Real Salt Lake Academy under-18 team at the Zions Bank Real Academy indoor facility.
Petke divided members of RSL and the Real Monarchs into three separate teams, each playing a 30-minute game against members of the academy.
RSL prevailed 3-1 in the combined 90-minute game. Three of the goals came in the middle 30-minute scrimmage as Joao Plata and Luis Silva scored for RSL, while Lyes Mezine scored for the academy.
In the last 30-minute scrimmage, Real Monarchs’ forward Juan Ignacio Mare scored the game’s final goal.