Real Salt Lake and Real Monarchs are both tasked this week with dispatching Colorado sides in what’s one of the better-planned rivalry weeks in recent memory.
It’s not often that your USL side has a genuine rival, but it’s hard to find two sides more embittered toward each other than Real Monarchs and Colorado Springs Switchbacks. And, of course, there’s the small issue of Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids, who have been life-long rivals (or at least life-long since 2004 or 2005, which, at this point, would make the rivalry a teenager).
So there you’ve got it. Rivalry week. But it’s a bigger week than that for both sides, really — and at this point, defining themselves based solely on their rivals would be a mistake. What’s in store for this week, then?
Real Salt Lake: It’s all about Petke
Obviously enough, we can’t stop talking about the new coach. We’ve seen 45 minutes of genuine soccering from Real Salt Lake (and 45 minutes of snowfall and blissful goalscoring, but that’s not quite the same thing) and it’s given us something to really look forward to this week.
Petke talked a lot last week about iterations, and I’m forced to wonder how that plays out this week. Is he going to hone in on what’s already been done and improve on it, or will he move on to the next thing that needs addressing? While we certainly don’t have an itemized list on our hands, I suspect Petke has a strong roadmap and is willing to adjust that as needed.
There are reasons to take either approach, of course. It’s going to come down to Petke’s personality and how he likes to approach issues, but if his talk is accurate, it seems like he wants to address a core set of problems and allow the team to focus on integrating his solutions as a whole.
Real Monarchs: Can they stop flirting with danger?
Real Monarchs have been an absolute blast to watch in their first three games, with both Petke and new coach Mark Briggs earning nothing but wins. But at times, the team has looked like they could succumb, and that was especially the case in their 5-3 win over league newcomers Reno 1868 FC.
What will we see from them this week? They’re clearly a very attack-minded team — and that’s fantastic, but we need to see them lock things down sometimes, too. Scoring four goals in a half is fine and dandy, but they can’t turn around and let the scoreline get to 4-3 in the second half.
Locking things down will be a high priority item for Real Monarchs, and I’m looking forward to this week as an opportunity to see them progress. In the process, vanquishing Colorado Springs Switchbacks would be a great thing to add, too. They’ve been a thorn in our sides, and that’s in part because in our first year, we faced them something like 850 times. It was tiresome, really, especially because we were pretty dreadful that first year.
So let’s lock it down, Real Monarchs. Keep being fun, but at some point, you’ll also have to get strong. Let’s see those central defenders who are on the cusps of MLS careers impress us.