SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake capped off their third game in eight days with a 2-0 win over their Rocky Mountain rivals on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
And while the result against the Rapids was satisfying, what had players and coaches smiling after the match was the fact that they put together a much more complete performance than on Wednesday against Montreal.
WATCH: Full match highlights
“We’d like to do that every game,” defender Chris Wingert said. “I think that’s something that [coach Jason Kreis] asks from us every week. Unfortunately, we don’t do it every week.”
Wingert went so far as to reference comments from an announcer that he heard on Saturday while watching UFC, a sport that he follows closely: “A lot of times, when you win, you get lazy, and champions that lose – they get focused and learn from their mistakes and get better.”
Real Salt Lake certainly appeared more focused – and aggressive – against Colorado right from the opening moments. In the first half, they controlled possession (62.5 percent), won the duels and had an exemplary passing efficiency (84.4 percent). While the numbers declined slightly for the full match, they set the tone right from the start, and never looked back.
“Tonight we just came out with the right energy, the right mentality, and it wasn’t there on Wednesday,” said defender Tony Beltran, who delivered a key assist on the opening goal of the match. “We just did a better job of focusing in the beginning and coming out and establishing possession early, and we built it from there.”
WATCH: RSL react to Rocky Mountain Cup win
Although it’s impossible to determine why things work one night and not the next, it’s clear that the emotions stemming from the poor performance on Wednesday – despite defeating the Impact 1-0 – helped RSL come out of the gate swinging in this one.
“I think they were just up for it,” Kreis said. “It certainly didn’t have anything to do with good coaching. I think the guys all knew Wednesday night was a disappointing effort, and I think everybody wanted to do better.”
Defender Nat Borchers agreed, and said he felt that his squad showed more fight in this one.
“Wednesday night, we were disappointed with how we fought,” said Borchers. “That’s just one of the intangibles of this game. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you can’t bring that competitive fight to the game, you are going to get beat.”
Regardless, Kreis admitted that this performance capped off what’s been a satisfying week.
“Three matches and nine points,” he said. “Two out of three extremely good performances – so we have to be pleased with where we are at right now.”