Real Salt Lake has one match left to play in the 2017 regular season and it comes this Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium against rival Sporting Kansas City. With a playoff berth on the line, Head Coach Mike Petke will make sure this week that his players know the stakes.
“We have to win this game,” Petke said Monday night on ESPN 700’s On Frame radio show. “That’s the mindset we’re taking.”
RSL has been among the hottest teams in MLS since July 4, going 7-3-4 since a 6-2 steamrolling of the LA Galaxy on Independence Day. However, a 1-0 defeat against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park while other playoff hopefuls San Jose and Dallas also failed to win is seen as a missed opportunity that could have propelled RSL further up the standings and deeper into playoff contention.
In the match, the Claret-and-Cobalt got on the cusp of breaking free throughout the match. With 30 shots and seven shots on goal, Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard was busy throughout the match, making a few spectacular stops to keep RSL from equalizing. With shots coming in at all angles, Colorado’s bunkered-in defense in front of Howard was enough to prevent RSL from earning anything from the match.
That loss elevates the level of urgency for Sunday as Salt Lake hosts Kansas City in a Decision Day clash that stands to be pivotal in the club’s playoff hopes.
“It was a hard pill to swallow. The players earned and deserved something out of that game, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles,” Petke said. “Now we have to look forward to the Kansas City game and we will be ready.”
The last three months have seen RSL explode offensively, scoring 30 of the club’s 47 goals in those 14 matches alone. With that in mind, Petke isn’t planning on undergoing any big changes in advance of the matchup with Kansas City.
“We’ve been effective and we’ve been dangerous. So we’re not going to completely change the way we play,” he said. “Having said that, there will be two or three, maybe even four different tactical scenarios as the game goes on to adjust.”
Kickoff in Sunday’s match is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT. To hear the full interview, click below.