More than most of his colleagues in MLS, Real Salt Lake manager Pablo Mastroeni never shies away from getting philosophical in his postgame comments.
That was certainly the case Saturday night after the Claret & Cobalt secured a remarkable 3-2 win at the New England Revolution, scoring three unanswered goals in the game’s final quarter-hour at a snowy, blustery Gillette Stadium.
Especially missing Damir Kreilach, their top scorer from 2021, last year’s Western Conference finalist may have been pegged to lose against the defending Supporters’ Shield champions. But they dug deep and made the return to the Mountain Time Zone a joyous one.
“I say this all the time: We can talk about talent, but who are you when the talent isn’t there? Who are you when you aren’t in your best form? Who are you? Are you just going to crumble?,” Mastroeni rattled off in his postgame remarks.
“And so everything that we talk about with the group is about mindset. And you can overcome so much with mindset. And especially in particular times where you didn’t have a full preseason, you didn’t have a lot of players available, you still don’t have players available. And you can make all these excuses, and we like to make excuses as coaches at times when things aren’t going your way. What we’ve really focused on is that."
After New England went ahead behind goals from Ema Boateng and Jozy Altidore on either side of halftime, it looked as though the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinalist was going to cruise into next week’s second leg at Liga MX’s Pumas UNAM.
But then RSL stormed back, capitalizing on long balls and determination in the box. Marquee offseason signing Sergio Cordova netted one in the 78th minute, homegrown defender Justen Glad equalized in the 88th minute and Tate Schmitt’s laser strike sunk the Revs in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.
Just like that, the visitors had their second straight win after beating Seattle Sounders FC last weekend – both results against CCL-participating clubs that were rotating first-choice players.
“Any little factors that don’t go our way, don’t make excuses, but find ways to make solutions from that,” Schmitt said of RSL’s outlook. “Always have that belief that we’re going to get something out of every opportunity that we work on, basically. I think it just rolled into the game that we have the variables of the weather that we’re not going to be able to control.
“We had those two bounces that didn’t go our way, but we just kept with it, stayed the course, and we found those two opportunities at the end that made the difference.”
While it wasn’t the prettiest win from RSL, it was certainly a memorable one when considering the opponent, playing conditions and comeback result. It conjured up memories of RSL’s Decision Day win last year, too, when Kreilach’s late goal defeated Sporting Kansas City and jumpstarted their why not us? playoff run.
“We talk about mentality a lot around here and we talk about what it takes to be a winning team," Mastroeni said. "On days when things aren’t going your way, who are you? What do you stand for? I think tonight the guys really showed a lot of resolve, a lot of commitment, a lot of desire, and you know, deserving of the result."