COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – In just two games, recently hired manager Mike Petke is already putting his mark on the culture and team identity of Real Salt Lake. It continued on Saturday night, as RSL earned a 2-1 win against Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Colorado, the team’s second straight victory since Petke took the helm in late March.
“I think it’s just a new energy,” said striker Yura Movsisyan. “New energy, new ideas, and I think that everybody woke up. Everybody knew that their job was at stake unless they produced, and that’s what’s been happening.”
RSL woke up again late against Colorado, scoring two goals and stealing three points in the final 10 minutes of the match. The reintroduction of that dogged attitude is another aspect that Salt Lake players have attributed to Petke.
“I think it’s been more serious and on the pitch we’re starting to work for each other a little bit more,” said forward Brooks Lennon, who scored the game-winner in the 88th minute. “It was just a never-say-die attitude. We just kept pushing and in the second half, we played the style we wanted to play and eventually got the penalty kick.”
Petke attributed team accountability as the reason behind the comeback, despite falling behind a goal following Kevin Doyle’s opener in the 29th minute.
“They knew coming into halftime that it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “I laid into them a little bit, but I didn’t need to. They laid into each other.”
For 80 minutes, it looked as though Colorado would grind out what has become a signature 1-0 win at home under coach Pablo Mastroeni. In the end, RSL flipped that script.
“It shows they have the desire, the energy, and they compete until the last whistle,” Petke said. “In a league of parity like this, it comes down to not giving up and pushing until that last second.”
In addition to earning their first road win of 2017, RSL ended the Rapids’ 20-game home unbeaten streak dating back to the 2015 season, making the result that much sweeter for the visitors.
“It’s awesome,” Movsisyan said. “It’s one of the toughest places to go in and get a result. To come to Colorado and get a win, playing as bad as we did, was actually kind of nice.”