HERRIMAN – Real Salt Lake practiced inside the Zion’s Bank Real Academy indoor facility on Thursday as they completed Day 4 of their preseason camp. Head coach Mike Petke said he feels his team continues to show their excellent fitness through six training sessions and said he’s been force-feeding his players the tactics of how he wants the side to play this season. He said the reasoning for firing away on tactics from the very first day was to get his players to understand what he expects of them so that they can hit the ground running come the regular season.
Coach Petke was asked about the big market vs. small market dynamic in Major League Soccer as he was the head coach of the New York Red Bulls for two seasons before coming to coach RSL. He said that he has seen both sides of the debate and that he enjoys being in Utah and a part of the club in the smallest media market in the league. Petke then went on to voice his opinion on the coverage and respect, or lack thereof, that the club receives nationally.
“[What] irks me [in] one aspect but makes happy on another, is sometimes the lack of respect and lack of attention that a club like RSL gets,” Petke explained. “The one thing I understand about it, possibly, is we’re in a results business and, at the end of the day, we didn’t make the playoffs last year. And then you look and it’s two national [TV] games that we’re getting [in 2018].
“Then you look at a team, I’m not gonna say the team, but you could look at [that] team on the east coast that finished below us but they have 16 nationally-televised games. Those types of things bother me. But on the other side of it, I like it, because I want to be the silent assassin. I want to be the team people overlook, that people don’t know so much about. Maybe I said too much there but I gotta say it. But, overall, part of me gets it and part of me wishes it was different.”
Two of RSL’s offseason additions spoke to the media on Thursday about their adjustments to playing with RSL in the early-goings of the preseason. Shawn Berry said that he made the decision to return stateside after seven years abroad due to his family. He said that the international recognition of MLS is growing and that he was able to see matches televised in Europe where he wouldn’t have seen them a few years ago.
Adam Henley echoed his teammates and coaches praise for the new training facilities in Herriman, saying they were on par with anything in the Barclays Premier League, adding that he’s been in nearly all of the ones across England during his playing days for the Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League and English Championship divisions. He said that preseason training, regardless of if it was in the Premier League or Major League Soccer, is demanding and that competition is important for a team to improve.
Luis Silva said hie offseason was spent getting stronger physically to deal with brawny centerbacks playing at the center forward in RSL’s attack. He said that he spent a lot of time working on his timing on runs, passing and finishing as he looks to assert himself at the position that he made his in 2017. He added that he welcomes the challenge that new signing Alfredo Ortuno will provide.
You can listen to Coach Petke, Luis Silva, Adam Henley and Shawn Berry’s post-training interviews here: