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Sandy • Mike Petke knew the rebuild he's undertaking with Real Salt Lake wouldn't be a quick fix, and he reminded everyone of that after training Tuesday afternoon at America First Field.
Where exactly is RSL at 2-5-2 and 2-2-0 under Petke in this process?
"We are at version .03 out of 10," he said. "So we've got a little ways to go."
RSL's coach didn't hold back from framing how far his team has ahead of it on this path. Among several key points made Tuesday, Petke said RSL's work ethic has dipped during its back-to-back losses, that some players couldn't rise to the occasion in struggles against Atlanta United then at Sporting Kansas City and that "the moment was maybe a little bit for some of them."
Petke even said RSL now has a mental performance specialist working with its players.
"We need to amp it back up," he said. "That's what we have to do."
RSL's coach said Designated Player Joao Plata trained off to the side Tuesday because the 25-year-old forward missing his flight back to Salt Lake City. Plata has started in the last two losses, but he has yet to register a goal in his injury-plagued start to the year. The dynamic goal-scorer signed a multi-year extension with RSL in late February.
"I won't accept that. The players know that," Petke said. "I don't know how it's been in the past. I don't care how it's been in the past. Accountability and being on time … being on time is not a rule. It's a given."
Asked how Petke and the coaching staff can get Plata, who led the team in goals (9) and assists (12) in 2016, on track, RSL's coach said he's still figuring out how certain players tick.
"We did an hour and 10 minutes today, tomorrow we'll do an hour and 15 [minutes], Thursday we'll probably do an hour at the most, Friday 45 minutes, Saturday 90 minutes," Petke said. "That's a hell of a work week, you know? I guarantee you, you ask anybody in this world, 'Would you rather work 9 to 5 or work those hours?'"
RSL slowly is getting there, hence the joke of where the team is in the process of building a foundation and culture under Petke. He vows he's not fazed after the back-to-back losses in which RSL has conceded six goals.
"This is something that I've bought into. Everybody seems to be buying into," he said. "And there's going to be a ways to go before we're all exactly where we want to be."
Schuler suspended for Saturday
A rough tackle will keep Chris Schuler sidelined this weekend against FC Dallas. The MLS Disciplinary Committee announced Tuesday that the RSL center back would be suspended one match and fined an undisclosed amount for his foul on Sporting KC midfielder Gerso Fernandes in RSL's 3-0 loss last weekend.
That leaves an already thinned RSL back line a bit weaker. Luckily, Aaron Maund returned to training this week. The RSL center back played 60 minutes with Real Monarchs over the weekend, and Petke said Maund could play a role this weekend.
"We had a 60-minute cap for him," Petke said. "[He] played good defensively. He was good with the ball at his feet, he was commanding out there and he came off unscathed and he feels good now. That's the most important thing."
RSL will be without goalkeeper Nick Rimando (hamstring) and Tony Beltran (calf) this weekend, Petke said. RSL's coach hasn't closed the book on the possibility of Kyle Beckerman (calf) being in the mix. The midfielder missed the 3-0 loss at Sporting KC but remains day-to-day.
Dallas FC at Real Salt Lake
When • 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where • Rio Tinto Stadium