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Petke takes blame for RSL loss against FC Dallas, but it’s clear he’s unhappy with his team

Mike Petke says he didn’t prepare RSL well enough. It’s more than just that.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

It’s another week, another loss, and we got handed another absolutely perfect Mike Petke press conference. It’s nice to know that at least something seems to be going right, even if it’s just a coach telling us that nothing’s really going right at all.

Anyway, let’s jump into it.

Well, we had 87 minutes left, so it wasn’t time to change the game plan or anything. To be quite honest, the game plan wasn’t working even before the penalty kick. You could just see, you could just sense. So, I didn’t prepare them well enough this week. I have to prepare them better next week going into New England. That is what it comes down to.

This is a theme Pekte echoes throughout his comments on the night.

I didn’t prepare them well enough. I didn’t prepare them well enough. I should have amped up practice more this week. I should have been more clear on certain things and that is what it comes down to. I am not taking one for the team, that is the way I look at it. You know, there are things that we talked about that were done in slow movements and slow transition. Comes down on me.

The team was slow. This is absolutely accurate. You can’t really kill a team with possession if your transition is slow — slowness and being methodical are sometimes confused, and that seems to be what’s happened to RSL.

I am very frustrated right now, I am very angry right now, I am disgusted right now and I am trying to figure out a way, without being cliché to put it on myself. Because at the end of the day, I am the coach and it has to fall on me. I am thinking about the last five weeks, that the transition from a coach that has been here for a while, and a way that they have been, and certain characteristics and culture that has been. I keep saying that I am doing step, step, step, and perhaps I am doing too much. Perhaps I am putting too much on that, to be honest with you. So, I don’t know how to answer your questions right now. I guess that is my main point, in the frame of mind I am in. So, will you ask it one more time, I’m sorry.

Petke’s right to hoist blame on himself in some aspects of this, given he’s the one issuing instructions, but the blame also rests on the team collectively. I’m wholly convinced of that fact.

This next line is easily one of my favorite from the whole press conference. We’ll talk about it after.

In practice this week it was good but I go back that it falls on me because perhaps I didn’t talk enough about the energy of the game, and starting off strongly and taking it to them, and we’re at home, and rah-rah-rah crap. Perhaps I didn’t do that enough.

This is good. That “rah-rah-rah crap” — that’s Mike Petke implicitly talking about the motivation of his team. When he talks about the transition from “certain characteristics” and “culture,” he’s clearly not talking about things that really worked. He’s talking about things that aren’t working now. Actively.

There’s a lot to unpack there.

But you talk about final third balls and penetrating balls and balls being delivered and we have quality up there. We have a guy in Yura, who has played in Russia who scored so many goals. We have Albert who is our DP, who’s so talented. We have Brooks (Lennon) and Bofo (Saucedo) who are leaving tomorrow for the U-20 World Cup and have the energy and talent that every 19-year-old in their position should. We have Luke behind them, who was possibly the one guy I can say who worked his ass off tonight consistently. So, back to this week about pushing that final third, penetrating balls, having guys have some guts, do it.

“Having guys have some guts.” That’s not a small statement, is it? And talking about workrate with Luke Mulholland being the only one really putting in a good shift? Petke might have hoisted blame on himself, but it’s entirely clear that he’s not happy with the players.

Moving on, Petke was asked a little bit about formations. Well...

We don’t have a formation right now. I literally continued the formation that has been played. I was literally continuing the formation that was before me and which I have played before. That is not my preferred formation, you know. Going on the road next week and going to New England across the country. Have a lot of guys that are out of play. On turf and then we have a mid-week game. I doubt we are going to go out and press a team and we are going to play with this 4-3-2-1, or 4-1-whatever the hell it is. We are going to play differently because we are going to have to.

My word. This is good stuff from Petke. “4-1-whatever the hell it is” is golden. “That is not my preferred formation” is doubly so. If Real Salt Lake is going to improve, Petke’s going to have to put his stamp on things. What will that mean for the team? That’s going to be a question without a particularly easy, firm answer. Does it mean we will play a radically different formation? I don’t think so. The bigger issue here is probably about roles being used and the prioritization of certain positions and groups of players.

I can’t wait to see what happens next week. For RSL having lost three straight, that’s a huge thing to be able to say right now.

RSL coach Mike Petke’s post-match press conference quotes are provided by RSL Communications.