Mike Petke has a surprise message for his team after 5-0 loss to DC United

WASHINGTON -- After his nine-man Real Salt Lake squad endured a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of D.C. United in Week 3, head coach Mike Petke just wanted his team to stay together.


“I hope these guys go out,” Petke said after the match at Audi Field. “I never say this to my players. I don’t encourage it. But I hope they go out and have a drink tonight together as a group, you know? The old drown your sorrows in a beer type thing. And then wake up tomorrow, and let’s get back to Salt Lake and let’s get ready for definitely an even tougher situation next weekend.”

Petke and his squad saw three major officiating decisions go against them in the defeat, which ended with only nine players on the pitch for the Claret-and-Cobalt.

United took the lead when Wayne Rooney converted a penalty for the first leg of his hat trick after Marcelo Silva stepped on Paul Arriola in the penalty area. After Rooney’s second, referee David Gantar dismissed Jefferson Savarino for a boot in Luciano Acosta’s face in first-half stoppage time. And after Rooney’s third, Gantar issued Silva his second yellow of the contest.

Yet there were no scathing comments from the coach in his third season in Utah, less than a year removed from his memorable rant following a loss to Minnesota United last July.

“I haven’t looked at it yet,” Petke said of a replay of the penalty call. “And I don’t think I’m going to look at it right now, because it’s not going to change anything. And I’m not going to comment on the decision. Those days are gone for me, to be honest with you.”

Between red card suspensions and international call-ups, Petke will be forced to field a considerably different lineup when his side travel to the opposite coast to face LAFC next Saturday in the rematch of their 2018 Knockout Round upset.

And even after the Week 3 blowout loss, Petke believes there’s a small kernel of positivity that could be taken.

“The one top thing we took away from this is we did play very well the first 30, 35 minutes, and the two goals that we gave up before the red card, we gave to them,” Petke said. “They didn’t break us down for that. So if we can see a positive out of this result like this, that’s it.”

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