RSL took a very similar 1-0 lead on a penalty kick, this time in the 5th minute instead of the 20th. From there, New York won the statistical columns, but Salt Lake held on for the win at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.
“[The Red Bulls] don’t let you play any type of soccer the way you want,” RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak said. “They did an unbelievable job today even though they lost 1-0. If you look at the game, every time we have the ball there’s four or five guys around each player. You can’t play the kind of soccer we want to play against that.”
Big saves from goalkeeper Nick Rimando and a total team effort from RSL wasn’t pretty at times, but got the job done. And after the blowout last week, even a gutsy win was a palate cleanser.
“This was entirely different after last week,” RSL head coach Mike Petke said. “This was about getting everybody working together, committing themselves to get back, defensive transition, and it didn’t matter how it looked at the end of the day. It’s a great three points and it’s a great response from our guys.”
Responding to giving up five unanswered goals a week ago can be a difficult process, and Petke noted that result remains perplexing. Correcting what could have been done better and understanding how quickly bad stretches can get out of hand probably helped in the performance Saturday against New York.
After being shaken a week ago from conceding five times at home, the team noted the chance to have a better showing at the very next opportunity. Rusnak was among the players to set the tone, putting away the penalty kick and by the end of the game spearheading efforts to kill the game in the waning moments.
“When we lost 5-1 at home, you start to think,” Rusnak said. “I was ashamed after the LAFC game, didn’t want to leave the house, didn’t want to see anybody because that was unacceptable. Tonight was our chance to get it right.”
Coming into the match, all eyes were on Petke facing the team that previously fired him. But he declined to assign the result added significance on a personal level.
“It has zero more gratification as it would if we were playing anybody else,” Petke said. “Beating New York Red Bulls in Sandy, Utah is great because we got three points.”