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Petke releases statement after RSL dismissal


Two days after his firing from Real Salt Lake, former head coach Mike Petke has broken his silence with a statement released on social media.

Posted on his official Twitter account, Petke admitted that he lost his temper with referee John Francis Pitti after Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 defeat to Tigres UANL on July 24 and acted poorly in berating the officials. However, he also made clear that he didn’t believe his actions were his true character and he hinted at a potential lawsuit, stating he will “have the chance to discuss the club’s decision in a forum in the future.”

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Petke also noted that he had signed a contract extension to stay with RSL for the future, only to lose his job days later.

According to reports from the Athletic, Petke allegedly used a Spanish word that is used as a Homophobic slur when speaking to the officials, which reportedly led to his dismissal. Many RSL fans were vocal in their opposition to Petke’s alleged language and there were reports that some of the club’s sponsors expressed issues with Petke’s actions.

The firing on Sunday ended a two-and-a-half year run for Petke in Utah. He was named head coach of RSL’s USL-club, Real Monarchs in late 2016, but just before the start of their season, he was promoted to Real Salt Lake head coach after the dismissal of then-coach Jeff Cassar in similar, expedited fashion.

Petke’s fiery passion and exuberance were on display on the sidelines and in post game press conferences during his time as RSL coach. But in terms of on-the-field success, Petke led RSL to the playoffs last year and had his team in position to make the playoffs this year, if the season ended today.

With Petke gone, assistant coach Freddy Juarez has been elevated to be the new head coach for the rest of the MLS season.

Real Salt Lake dismisses head coach Mike Petke

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Mike Petke is no longer in charge of Real Salt Lake, the team announced on Sunday.

Freddy Juarez, the team’s assistant coach, will take over as the interim head coach for the remaining ten games. Petke was set to return from a two-week suspension on Monday.

The cub issued the following statement regarding the news:

“At Real Salt Lake, we have the privilege to represent our great community and fans here locally and on a national and global basis.  We hold all of our coaches, players, executives and staff to the highest standards of professionalism. As an organization, it is vital that everyone, particularly our leadership, reflects and embodies our core values and the values of our community, treating all people with respect, civility and professionalism. Moreover, throughout our 15-year history, we have championed diversity, acceptance and inclusion throughout our organization, our stadiums and our community.  This is a responsibility that we take very seriously.

“On Tuesday, July 30, after an investigation and in conjunction with Major League Soccer, the club levied the steepest sanctions ever imposed on an MLS coach when we suspended Mike Petke without pay for two weeks in addition to his three-match suspension in MLS and $25,000 fine. 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.”

The decision to terminate Petke’s contract comes weeks after the 43-year-old’s altercation with referees following RSL’s 1-0 loss to Club America on July 24 in the Leagues Cup, which initially earned him a red card. Shortly after, MLS opened an investigation on the incident. According to multiple reports, Petke was ultimately suspended for shouting homophobic slurs at the officials.

Hired in 2017, Petke went 39-36-16 across all league competition. In 2018, RSL qualified for the playoffs, losing to Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference quarterfinals.

Sixth in the Western Conference with 37 points, RSL has yet to lose under Juarez, drawing once and winning its last two.

WATCH: Beautiful Besler back heel goal finishes off NYCFC

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Nick Besler’s been watching Pedro.

The black-booted Real Salt Lake midfielder had to think fast on Sunday to produce a fantastic goal which needs second and third looks, if only because you might not see the genius at first blush.

[ MORE: Barca adds Liverpool target ]

The 26-year-old Besler, younger brother of Matt, was on the scene when Jefferson Savarino’s bounding volley of a loose ball traced wide of the post.

Besler’s jabbed his foot at the ball, flicking it home in a more rapid version of Pedro’s elegant finish for Chelsea earlier this week.

Real’s collection of goals in the 3-1 win over New York City FC was beautiful, and you could argue that the preceding goals from Savarino and Albert Rusnak were just as sweet.

The Utah side is four points back of third, and just four ahead of ninth. MLS is wild this year, team.

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.

Leagues Cup preview: MLS gets its next shot at Liga MX

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It’s not a typo; The s is very real.

The Leagues Cup — not the League Cup — is the new competition pitting Major League Soccer sides against some of the top sides from Mexico’s Liga MX.

The tournament has been expanded before it’s even seen a ball kicked in competition, as the second edition with go from eight to 16 teams.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

For now, though, we’ve got four American and four Mexican sides meeting over the next two months in a bid for North American supremacy not unlike a CONCACAF Champions League stripped of all the minnows.

Much like the CCL, the Mexican sides will be expected to triumph, even with all of the quarterfinals being staged in the United States.

Chicago Fire hosts Cruz Azul on Tuesday, followed by the LA Galaxy’s visit from Club Tijuana.

Wednesday will see the Houston Dynamo host Club America, and Tigres UANL at Real Salt Lake.

The winners meet Aug. 20, while the final will be played Sept. 18 in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of promise in this, and it gives MLS another chance to make some statements about the distance between it and Liga MX. The Mexican sides have flat out dominated the CCL, and it’s not difficult to make the same prediction for this tournament.

But, like many tournaments, it also gives success-starved clubs a chance to give their fans something big and their players a tonic. For Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s Chicago, for one, it’s a huge opportunity. And for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy, it’s a look toward another piece of silverware for one of the world’s biggest trophy cases.