MARIETTA, Ga. — Real Salt Lake started the 2017 season 2-7-2 but managed to go 8-3-4 over their last 15 games of the season, missing the playoffs by just one point. While this season has been up-and-down, Sebastian Saucedo believes his team can pull off a similar run this season.
"I think we're really good at home, [but] I think we're having trouble finding consistency away from home," Saucedo told MLSsoccer.com after training with the MLS Homegrowns on Monday. "I've said it in previous [interviews], we're a special team and we have special players and I think that everything is connecting towards playoffs. So hopefully we keep it going and that way we can start doing big things in playoffs."
RSL currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference standings, just above the playoff line. Below them sit four teams within five points; they are also just two points behind fifth-place Sporting Kansas City. After making the playoffs seven straight seasons between 2008 and 2014, the Claret and Cobalt have missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons.
Saucedo has had a breakout season under head coach Mike Petke, wrestling away playing time from Joao Plata on the left wing. The 21-year-old has scored his first two goals and added three assists for his hometown club and has played 768 minutes, already surpassing his career high. He will be participating in Tuesday night's MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer (8 pm ET; UDN — Full TV & streaming info) along with teammate Aaron Herrera.
"The thing is, we started off really bad last year. Coming from the last six months of the seasons, our team finished off strong . . . I think it kind of felt like we had a special group. At the same time, we all need to finish strong. That's all it takes."
Saucedo is one of seven Homegrown Players on RSL's roster, but just one of only two hailing from the Salt Lake City area (left back Danilo Acosta is the other). The majority of the club's Homegrown Player signings came when their academy was based in Casa Grande, Az. With that academy now based in Utah, the Park City-native hopes to see more opportunities for Utahns.
"We have a similar facility [that Atlanta has]. I think they have more of the tools to get more players from Utah to be able to be successful. That's what I'm looking forward to."