Real Salt Lake’s loss to Vancouver Whitecaps featured RSL maintaining a lot of possession, but it also saw them play in what Mike Petke described as a style of “last resort” — which is to say, sitting back in a more defensive stance.
His post-match press conference following the loss described his rationale.
I did tonight what I don’t like to do, when I came in here I was very adamant and clear of how I like to play, not sitting back, that’s a last resort. The way Vancouver plays they’re very direct, they like to get the ball wide, and whip in crosses. They’re number one in the league in set piece goals, they’re number three in total crosses, and they’re next to last in possession. They’re a very direct team, so their speed was an issue coming in — that’s why we sat a little deeper back.
Of course, as always, he talked about a lot more than just that. Here’s a good one about the general tenor of the match.
I think we reacted right to one or two of their goals, but they just executed better. At the end of the day they played exactly how we though they would. We, for large chunks, played the way we wanted to, it’s just that the quality, for some reason, from certain players — you know, off a pass here off a pass there, a missed touch here, a little bit out of position — those things happen you know. Great resiliency and grit for us to come back, we had opportunities to get the tying goal, and possibly a winning goal but it wasn’t on the night.
There’s an interesting thing there — “from certain players.” He’s going on here, so let’s let him get to it.
We knew they game would open up eventually, we wanted to get through the first 15 minutes without conceding anything, we did, but again the goals are the things we worked on, and I’m not pointing the finger at players, I’m just saying we knew what to expect.
“I’m not pointing the finger at players” is interesting in this context, but you know what? It’s hard not to believe him. He’s been very clear when he’s pointing a finger.
Of course it’s frustrating for me. It’s probably double frustrating for the players, they’re doing the battling. They’re number one in set piece goals for a reason because they’re very good at it. They’re very good in execution, their crosses coming in; they’re very good with the players that they have winning the battles — so again credit to them, but you know it’s frustrating for all of us.
Well said, Mr. Petke.