Here are three things we learned from Real Salt Lake’s 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City in the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup.
1. Playing five games in 15 days isn’t easy
This is more of a given, but just four days ago RSL was rolling. After it beat the Seattle Sounders at home 2-0, the team didn’t look tired. But to keep the team refreshed and energized for its upcoming Major League Soccer match, most of the usual starting rotation had to sit out the U.S. Open Cup match.
This wasn’t necessarily a throw away game, however. Head coach Mike Petke used Wednesday night’s game to get some new faces out on the pitch. Though the end result wasn’t what the team wanted, Real knew what it was getting itself into by not putting out its best rotation.
2. RSL played a solid 45 minutes
Not all was ugly for the home team. Real Salt Lake put together a solid first half of action at Rio Tinto Stadium. Players who don’t often see the light of the day got some valuable experience, and though their fitness level may have been lacking at times, this will help Real moving forward if for whatever reason it needs to call on one of these players to step up. Petke most enjoyed getting to watch a couple of players from the Real Monarchs.
“This was an opportunity for me to see certain guys who have played with the Monarchs a lot and certain guys who have been reserves coming off the bench once in a while and seeing what they have,” Petke said.
3. LA Galaxy is the priority
After the loss, Petke mentioned that he has never won the U.S. Open Cup — not as a player and not as a coach. It’s something he would love to achieve one day as it speaks to his competitive demeanor. However, Wednesday night’s game wasn’t the focus.
Real Salt Lake is gearing up to take on the LA Galaxy Saturday. In the middle of a packed schedule, it had to pick and choose its battles, and a win in the fourth round U.S. Open Cup game seemed to be the one the team could live without.
“LA is a big game for us coming up in three days, and I didn’t want to risk any injury. I didn’t want to risk any continuation of tired legs,” Petke said.