Real Salt Lake are one of the hottest teams in MLS, they are rising up the West, and are looking like a genuine playoff contender. So why is no one talking about them?
I am a Kansas City Chiefs fan. I know what it is like to support a small-market franchise that gets consistently overlooked by the national media. At this very site, we are as culpable and guilty as any other MLS media organisation for doing it. Naturally, we all tend to focus on the ‘big teams’.
In the Premier League, it’s Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool. In the NFL, it’s the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants, the Pittsburgh Steelers. In MLS, it’s the New York Red Bulls, the Seattle Sounder, Atlanta United.
But our natural attraction towards the big, the bold and the brash means that we often tend to miss the remarkable achievements of the small, the overlooked, the understated and underrated, those that deserve credit for their work but will rarely be afforded such a basic luxury in the national landscape.
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And recently, in MLS, there has not been a better example that Real Salt Lake. Perhaps it’s because they’re not from New York or Los Angeles. Perhaps it’s because no one rarely ventures to Salt Lake. Perhaps it’s because they do not have MVP candidates or strikers competing for the Golden Boot or that they haven’t won either the U.S. Open Cup or MLS Cup since 2009. Whatever it is, Real Salt Lake are never talked about.
That is why their recent surge up the Western Conference standings and into the very heart of playoff contention has not nearly been discussed enough on the national stage. But they should be praised for their prosperous form of late.
"“We’ve had many good moments this year and now we’re hitting a stride of sorts, but I’m certainly not ready to say we’re playing great and this is exactly who we want to be. I always think there’s room for improvement.”"
RSL have lost just three games since the start of July. They have lost just one of their last nine, are unbeaten in four, including two consecutive six-goal thrashings of the Colorado Rapids and the Los Angeles Galaxy, and sit just six points behind leaders FC Dallas in the West.
Petke has built a very solid, coherent, intelligent team that understands the system and executes it smoothly without many defects or mental errors. In Albert Rusnak and Jefferson Savarino, RSL boast one of the most creative and exciting attacking duos in MLS. Pair that with an improving defence, they have conceded more than one goal only twice in eight games, and one of those was a 6-2 win over the Galaxy, and you have the makings of a dangerous team.
And yet, they continue to be roundly ignored by much of the national fraternity. So, here’s to Petke and Real Salt Lake. This has been a good season which could still get better.