What a fantastic start for the Red Bulls in CONCACAF Champions League action along with the youth and depth they used to open their league season with that four goal destruction over the Portland Timbers to start the season.
After defeating one Metro legend in Giovanni Savarese, the Red Bulls will face for the first time the man that earned the first piece of silverware in club history in Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke.
But as they prepare for their first road match of the season, the last time they were done with a huge victory in a knockout competition, they became sluggish and started off on the wrong foot. That was last season after a huge extra time win at FC Cincinnati in the US Open Cup Semi-Finals.
“We talked about the fact that last year when we won the Open Cup Semi-Final that we went into a lull through the season. There was a lot of anticipation for the US Open Cup final and we didn’t focus on the task at hand.” Said Jesse Marsch.
“We talked about we can compartmentalize this year and learn from that and learn each day that we go out to perform. Going to Salt Lake is never easy, they are a good team and we have to be prepared and be at our best to try and get some points out of that game.”
We all know that Real Salt Lake is very upset about how they were dismantled by expansion side Los Angeles FC as they put five goals past Nick Rimando after the home side scored the opening goal. We know how Mike is getting his side ready to go.
“I’m sure he’s using that game as motivation and he is motivated himself. This is a club that is dear to his heart and it should be, he spent a lot of good years here and he is a club legend. So we have to expect that his team will play at 100% as will we.” said Marsch.
Tyler Adams had himself a very good Champions League campaign so far and scoring his first International Club tournament goal against Club Tijuana in the second leg quarterfinals has given him more confidence since that was his third goal in all competitions.
This will be a tough challenge for him as well as going up against his teammate in last years U-20 World Cup in Brooks Lennon who is with the club that he will be facing this weekend.
“This game will be a little more tougher than most as they have a lot to prove after the loss they took from LAFC, they are a team that going into the season with the size of their attacking pieces that they have and how dangerous they can be.” Said Adams.
“It’s going to be fun for me facing some of my former teammates that I had with the U-20’s National Team and having a close rivalry with some of those guys that I had fun with last year.”
Connor Lade was managed by Mike Petke for the two seasons he was there as the head coach, Mike was apart of the coaching staff when Hans Backe drafted Lade from St. John’s and he can’t wait to face off against his old manager.
“It’s nice to see old faces, especially one who was big with the club. Mike was a great servant for the club on and off the field. We know how Mike is going to be showing that fire after the last performance and how that match ended up.” said Lade.
And while this match is about getting the full three points and trying to find a way to try and trip up RSL as much as possible, there is no denying that Mike Petke will always have a soft spot in everyone’s heart.
He was the first former player who became the coach of this club and led them to the promise land by earning the first piece of silverware in club history back in 2013 with the Supporters Shield, then in 2014 he changed up the formation and got them as far as the Eastern Conference Finals with a one and done comeback win over Sporting KC, Goal Aggregate win over DC United before falling to the New England Revolution.
We will always have a soft spot for Mike and while it looks like he is happy in the Mountain area of the country, it looks like the fan base of Real Salt Lake have already taken him into their hearts and why wouldn’t they. His desire to win is second to none and who else would know that better than the loyal fan base of the MetroStars/Red Bulls.