MLS suspends Petke after Leagues Cup red card

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Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke is no stranger to fines and suspensions, and he’ll be serving another one for at least this weekend, if not longer.

After receiving a red card post game from the officials following RSL’s 1-0 defeat to Tigres, MLS announced on Saturday, just minutes before RSL’s match against FC Dallas, that it had suspended Petke for his actions and are looking further into the incident.

“Major League Soccer has suspended Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke pending an investigation into his conduct directed at the match officials following the Leagues Cup match against Tigres UANL on Wednesday night,” the league said in a statement. “Petke will miss Saturday’s match at FC Dallas.”

Following the defeat to Tigres, Petke claimed in his postgame press conference that he was just trying to pull players away from the officials when he was shown the red card, but then had some choice words for the crew following that.

What’s questionable about this is that in what’s effectively an exhibition tournament set up by MLS, why should the league suspend Petke? Well, one reason is to try and make it seem more official. If red cards, suspensions, or other action taken by officials could carry over into league matches, it gives the tournament a little more legitimacy, and not something clubs could just ignore. Plus, as RSL beat writer Alex Vejar points out, MLS had every right to make, or not make, this decision.

It’s unclear whether this will go past a one-match suspension for Petke, but there’s no doubt that it won’t change his behavior. Petke is who he is, and he has a lot of fans exactly for those reasons, including in the RSL locker room.