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Sounders-Real Salt Lake Preview
Riding its longest unbeaten stretch of the season, Real Salt Lake has moved on from coach Mike Petke.
After sacking its controversial manager over the weekend, RSL looks to extend its undefeated run to six games Wednesday night while aiming to continue some recent home dominance of the Seattle Sounders.
Petke was set to return this week from a three-game MLS suspension that stemmed from his language and overall misconduct toward match officials during a Leagues Cup game last month. However, on Sunday night, the club announced it had fired Petke and said assistant Freddy Juarez will be the interim coach for the rest of the season.
"We hold all of our coaches, players, executives and staff to the highest standards of professionalism," the club said in a statement. "After further deliberations and a series of constructive discussions internally and with various members of our community, we have concluded, pursuant to his employment agreement, to immediately terminate Mike Petke's employment."
A former MLS player and manager of the Red Bulls, Petke has coached Salt Lake since early in the 2017 season. He guided the team to a 38-34-15 record, but has been known for chastising referees and game officials. However, recent reports surfaced suggesting that Petke spewed anti-gay slurs in this instance, thus, costing him a job.
On the pitch, RSL (11-9-4) sits sixth in the Western Conference and amid a 3-0-2 stretch while losing just once over the last nine league contests. Down 1-0 at Sporting Kansas City after 31 minutes on Saturday, Corey Baird scored in the 38th minute and again in the 70th to lead Salt Lake to its second straight win, 2-1.
Jefferson Savarino, who assisted on Baird's go-ahead goal, has three goals with four assists over the last five games.
"We just have to stay humble to work hard, and to go step-by-step," forward Damir Kreilach told Real Salt Lake's official website. "I know we have 10 games until the end (of the regular season), and we will give our best."
Salt Lake, which won three in a row from May 11-24, fell 1-0 at Seattle on April 6. However, RSL has won seven consecutive home matches against the Sounders dating to November 2012.
Seattle (11-7-6) is second in the West but has just one victory over its last four games. The Sounders avoided a third consecutive home defeat, but felt as if they let a full three points slip away with Saturday's 3-3 draw versus New England.
Harry Shipp scored the first of his two goals in the second minute, but Seattle failed to hold a 3-2 advantage and settled for the lone point after Carles Gil equalized off a penalty kick in the 87th minute that was set up by Jordy Delem's ball to the hand in the box.
"I thought we could have done a better job getting organized defensively," Shipp, who has five goals on the season, told the Sounders' official website.
Seattle's Nicolas Lodeiro, who scored the lone goal versus RSL earlier in the season, has one with two assists over the last two contests.
Updated August 12, 2019