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Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: Three questions

Lucas from RSL Soapbox and I have a lovely chat about Saturday’s game

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

When a ball is kicked off on Saturday night at 7:00 PM on the pitch at CenturyLink Field, it will be between two sides that are in opposite form, but historically, form hasn’t mattered in matches against Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders.

We checked in with Lucas from RSL Soapbox ahead of the match to find out what’s going on with the Claret and Cobalt.

Sounder at Heart: That’s 3 red cards in 4 matches right? Are RSL the bad boys of MLS?

RSL Soapbox: Three cards in four games would be great, but Real Salt Lake have received four cards in their last three games (two in DC, one in LA, and one at home against Dallas).

RSL may be bad, but I’m not sure they’re worthy of the “bad boys of MLS” title just yet. At the start of the season the player that seemed most likely to get a red, newcomer Everton Luiz, has received three yellows but hasn’t been shown red — yet. He’s an absolute destroyer and his pace and physically have been a great addition as Kyle Beckerman slows down a bit.

It’s difficult to draw any conclusions from the reds. They’re all fairly unique situations, but four reds in three games is pretty terrible. That in turn makes it difficult to draw conclusions around the team’s form. RSL haven’t lost a game when they’ve finished with 11; however, that’s only the first two games of the season. For RSL fans, it’s just a waiting game to see if they get another red or how they can perform with all 11 men for 90 minutes.

SaH: A lot of people love Mike Petke for the memes he’s created over the years, but a few of my RSL-supporting friends aren’t too pleased. What’s the general temperature of the fan base regarding Petke? Could he get fired if results don’t improve?

RS: Petke is an emotional coach. That’s not necessarily bad or good, but he’s pretty open that he’s not great at controlling his emotions. That’s earned him a lot of credibility with some fans. RSL’s last two coaches were pretty dispassionate, so his raw responses can be very refreshing. He obviously cares, and gives great interviews, especially post match.

However, he’s not much of a tactician. The Guardian noted this back in his days with New York Red Bulls. There are people who are firmly on the “Petke Out” bus, and a lot (perhaps the majority) that think that idea is ridiculous.

If Real hadn’t made the playoffs last season, Petke’s seat would be much hotter. I don’t think he’s in any immediate danger of losing his job, but performances need to improve. RSL has had tough schedule, playing DC United, LAFC, and now Seattle so early in the season was never going to be easy. I think it much more likely that Petke sees out the whole season and if the team does not make the playoffs, he may not be back in 2020.

There’s a lot of similarities between Corey Baird and Jordan Morris. Both are homegrown players who won Rookie of the Year. Both have similar play styles. Both are seemingly battling for the same position for the USMNT. What does Baird bring to RSL’s attack?

RS: Baird outperformed all expectations last season. In a year that saw RSL take a swing at a center forward that totally failed (Alfredo Ortuño), Corey did a fantastic job of stepping up at center forward. Baird has generally played on the wing, but for much of 2018 he was up top when Kreilach (who will miss this match on a red card) was playing elsewhere. Corey has speed and really pesters defenders. His decision making isn’t always great, but his work effort and speed are top notch.

Be sure to check out the questions Lucas asked me over at their site.

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