Soccer’s a game of two halves. Literally, of course, but also kind of figuratively.
This was one of those games. But literally, Real Salt Lake lost to Seattle Sounders, and while the second half was better than the first, we walked away with no points.
Loser: Real Salt Lake (... yeah, obviously)
For just the fifth time in RSL’s history, we’ve entered into a four-game losing streak. It happened in 2015, right after RSL coach Mike Petke took the reins. It happened in 2011 at the end of the season, when we were really struggling — but also right as Javier Morales came back. It happened in 2007. And, of course, it happened twice in 2005, when we lost 10 consecutive games. So, whatever happens to RSL in the next six games, I doubt it could be as bad as that. (I hope I haven’t just willed that reality into the universe.)
Winner: Sam Johnson
Real Salt Lake’s designated player got his first start for the club, and he looked very much the part — outside of his finishing, which, well, you know. You’ve got to play to get in a groove, typically, and I don’t think anyone thought Johnson would come in as a pure finisher. But he did drive our attack in the second half until his substitution, which ...
Loser (but only slightly): The game, via Sam Johnson
After growing into the game and proving to be a very dangerous player, Sam Johnson was yanked from the match. Why? Well, I don’t really know. It could certainly be down to match fitness — those are things that don’t really show immediately from our perspective. So while I won’t dispute the sub too strongly, I do think we had evidence to see Johnson as an impactful player, and we’re the losers for not getting to see him for longer.
Winner: Mike Petke’s post-match
I know, I know — this is talk, and it’s just talk right now until something changes. But after four consecutive losses, we needed to hear something new from the coach. I’ll include a quick write-up of what he said at the bottom of this. Be warned, it’s a rough transcript.
But here’s the biggest thing for me:
I’m getting sick and tired of coming here and saying we played well, it wasn’t our night.
That’s the accountability we’ve needed from him all season. In a way, I’m just glad we didn’t have another opportunity for an excuse about refereeing.
Now, does this mean he got every decision right? I don’t think so. And then... there’s ths.
Loser: Mike Petke and the Mike’d Up segment
“If he doesn’t give a PK, we’re going to win this game. We’re going to win this game”
Yeah. That’s ... well, I don’t know when exactly he said that, but it was on camera during the match. It’s not a great look.
Loser: Brooks Lennon
Over and over and over, we’ve seen Brooks Lennon struggling to fully embrace the right back role, and while I don’t think we’ll see a change, we saw once again that he’s not a true right back, and that puts us in a bad situation. I don’t think he is single-handedly costing RSL points, but he certainly didn’t help tonight.
Loser: Marcelo Silva
A late yellow? OK. I can accept that when you’re pushing. But to go off injured only a few minutes later? I’m not OK with that. I don’t think that’s down to Silva, obviously. I’m not that out there. But man alive, I’m tired of our center backs dealing with injuries. Justen Glad, Erik Holt, and now Marcelo Silva? Our luck sometimes.
Winner: Luis Arriaga
I know, I know. Hype trains are dangerous and all that. But he looked very bright in the three minutes he played. So he’s a winner in my book.
Loser: The RSL backline in the final minute of stoppage time
So, the final 30 seconds of the match — arguably the last attack we could have taken upfield — were spent passing the ball around the backline. It was hardly good enough from a team that was in a losing position.
Winner: Everton Luiz
Once again, Luiz is proving to be a crucial player for us. As much as some players need time to adjust to the league, others prove that they can step right in. Luiz has provided a near-seamless transition, and we’ve been much better off having him here. I’m very curious how he does as the season wears on a bit.
We actually created five or six ... (recounts all of the opportunities) ... it comes down to this. I’m getting sick and tired — and I’m not faulting my players at all — I’m getting sick and tired to come back and say we deserve more out of this. We all have to grow up a little bit. The days of saying we’re a young team — which we are — have to be pushed.
I thought we started the game well tonight, getting back and preventing ... their rotation causes problems. End of the first half, second half, we stopped playing and started doing things
I’m challenging these guys, the coaching staff and myself, to not come back and say ‘the boys did well tonight ‘... how do we connect more passes to start the game? Lodeiro himself runs 14 or 15k ... that’s a lot of pressure he puts on himself. How could we grow up a little bit from the coaching staff to the players and figure this out? Yes, we’re compared to other teams with money and all that ... for me, we have to grow up. The times over the past few years, we’ve turned it on ... but to come back to this, it comes back to me.
Everything we did tonight, the players knew about, the players expected. I’m kind of getting tired of getting ready for other teams. We have to take a look at ourselves a bit. I’m getting sick and tired of coming here and saying we played well, it wasn’t our night.
I’ve watched it four times already ... challenging the guys if they’re not watching the games. There are individual factors in it. Perhaps it’s me, like I said, every week we’re prepared for every team we play. Almost every week, it plays out from their perspective how we scouted them.
Where does it start? It starts looking at everybody individually. It’s only six games in. There are zero panic buttons. Let’s grow up a bit as a team. Demand better from each other. It starts with me.