SANDY — Real Salt Lake was bad on Saturday afternoon, plain and simple.
Actually, it was worse than bad. The 5-1 loss was the most goals conceded at home in franchise history. Prior to that, the most goals allowed at home was in RSL’s 2005 expansion season when it lost to Kansas City 4-1 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Coach Mike Petke didn’t offer much explanation for what happened, deferring instead to comment on the details until he analyzed the numerous breakdowns over the weekend. He believes it was an anomaly though.
His players echoed that sentiment after the loss.
“To be fair, at the end of it all, I don’t think we were good enough and we just have to accept that and move on and look forward to the next game,” said defender Demar Phillips, whose side of the field was exposed on Los Angeles FC’s first three goals.
“As a soccer player, these days happen sometimes. No one is perfect. Sometimes we have a bad day and I think today was one of those days. It’s tough.”
Even though LAFC made things look easy in the win, Albert Rusnak insisted that nothing the visitors did was surprising — which added to the mounting frustration.
“We watched their tapes. We watched how they played in preseason and how they played against Seattle and we knew their movement up top. Their three guys made the runs behind our back line and the first three or four goals were exactly the same,” said Rusnak. “We watched the tapes all week and we worked on it all week, and then it’s a shame that we couldn’t figure it out and stop them from doing these things that we knew they were going to do.”
Was it a genuine anomaly as Petke suggested that LAFC connected on so many through balls? Or was it a sign that RSL doesn’t have adequate defensive depth to cope when Marcelo Silva is out — as he was on Saturday after injuring his hamstring in Friday’s practice?
Saturday’s loss wasn’t about one player, though the breakdowns were a consistent pattern that presented themselves early in the match as LAFC nearly scored just six minutes into the match.
“It will be important to look at the mistakes we made, you can’t just forget about a game. Either (Sunday) or Monday we have to go through it as a team, we have to watch the tape and we have to specifically and individually point out the errors, because there were errors made by every single person on the field today, including myself,” said Rusnak.
Here’s the scary thing for Real Salt Lake, next Saturday won’t get any easier when the New York Red Bulls come to town full of confidence after a 4-0 thrashing of Portland.
Phillips insists there will be greater urgency and focus next week.
“It’s a wake-up call, man. It’s a wake-up call. We just have to look forward to this week coming, put some work in, and focus on the next game. It’s a wake-up call,” said Phillips.