I think what it came down to is on that day the effort wasn’t there, the movement wasn’t there, the kind of fire wasn’t there. —Real Salt Lake defender Justen Glad
SANDY — Less than 48 hours after the worst home loss in franchise history, Real Salt Lake’s players were back on the training field for a light, but very rare Monday practice.
More important is what transpired in the 45-minute team meeting prior to the practice as RSL watched film on how the 5-1 loss unfolded.
“We had a very lengthy and very direct and very good meeting this morning,” said coach Mike Petke. “Our moral and energy and everything is going to be good for this week, I can tell you that. Gone but not forgotten.”
In the immediate aftermath of the game, Petke had planned on rewatching the 90-minute game in its entirety with the team on Monday. He scaled that back to about 45 minutes after rewatching the game three or four times himself over the weekend and noticing a consistent pattern.
Real Salt Lake’s transition defense simply wasn’t good enough on Saturday, something he believes is “100 percent fixable.”
In fact, in watching the film, Petke said it was Los Angeles FC that transitioned how he expects his team to.
“They transitioned very well. They were back in their block immediately, full speed, and they were firing on all cylinders when they won the ball and exposed our gaps, and that was the difference,” said Petke.
Those gaps were cavernous at times as LAFC played numerous through balls behind Real Salt Lake’s back line. It was extremely difficult to watch, especially considering how good his team was at doing that in the second half of last season.
“I’m huge on balance, one of my key things, that’s why they became the team they did last year based off of balance and transition, and again the anomaly of this whole thing is it just wasn’t evident (on Saturday),” said Petke.
As for why it wasn’t there, defender Justen Glad didn’t dance around the reasoning when asked after Monday’s practice.
“I think what it came down to is on that day the effort wasn’t there, the movement wasn’t there, the kind of fire wasn’t there,” said Glad.
If that fire and effort weren't there for a home opener, is that a red flag that it could be a larger issue throughout the season? Those answers will arise in the coming weeks, but Petke doesn’t seem to be too concerned.
Last summer when Real Salt Lake lost back-to-back games at Houston and Dallas after conceding 11 combined goals, Petke said the reaction afterward was terrific and spurred the club to an excellent second half of the MLS season.
With 32 games to go don’t expect any knee-jerk reactions to the loss from Petke, but also don’t expect him to let his players forget about it either.
“You know well enough with my previous talks over the last year it’s always about the next game and you leave the past game behind you. This one we’re going to do 90-10 percent with that, there has to be a remembrance of this game cause it can never happen again,” said Petke.
The first step toward that was getting the players on the field a day earlier than normal to let out some of their frustration.
“Good to get out on the field and flush that game out of the system, get some touches again and focus on next week as soon as possible,” said Glad.
That next game is this Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium against a quality New York Red Bulls team that beat Portland last weekend 4-0.