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Petke releases statement after RSL dismissal

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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.

CCL roundup: RBNY’s comeback falls short; Dynamo gone, too

Photo credit: @ClubSantos
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The odds were long — as they tend to be for MLS teams this time of year — but that didn’t stop the New York Red Bulls from making things interesting before they were eventually throttled by Santos Laguna in leg no. 2 of the sides’ CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal tie.

[ MORE: USMNT roster unveiled as Pulisic, European stars return ]

The final result was anything but surprising; it was the path by which the Red Bulls arrived at their 6-2 aggregate defeat that was most shocking. Chris Armas’ side went from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 after just nine minutes in Torreon, Mexico. Omir Fernandez and Daniel Royer bagged goals in the 4th and 9th minutes, respectively.

The game’s final 81 minutes would see the Red Bulls take just two shots, putting exactly one on target. Predictably, the comeback halted dead in its tracks at 2-2, though they were at one point fewer than 20 minutes from forcing a penalty shootout.

Then, they conceded a goal in the 72nd minute. And the 76th. And the 79th. And the 81st.

Elsewhere in Mexico, Tigres refused to play with the same fire as Santos and finished off the Houston Dynamo with relative comfort and ease. Carlos Salcedo bagged the second leg’s only goal in the 68th minute to make it 3-0 on aggregate and to set up a mouth-watering clash between the two Liga MX sides in next month’s semifinals.

The hopes and dreams of an entire league now rest largely on the shoulders of Sporting Kansas City, who have a 2-1 deficit to overturn at home against Panamanian side Independiente, and to a much lesser extent Atlanta United, who come home trailing Monterrey 3-0.

CCL preview: Long odds for 3 of 4 MLS teams

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
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Let’s start with a positive: Sporting Kansas City find themselves in a pretty strong position to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals when they host Panamanian side Independiente in leg no. 2 on Thursday.

[ UEFA Champions League: Juve seek comeback v. Atleti; Man City v. Schalke ]

Now, the not-so-positive: the chances of any of the other three remaining MLS teams joining them — should Sporting KC get there themselves, even — are extremely poor.

Peter Vermes’ side trails 2-1 after last week’s first leg in Panama City, but the away goal secured from the penalty spot could prove vitally important when the two sides wrap up the tie at Children’s Mercy Park. Independiente were fully deserving of the home result, as they pressed and thoroughly frustrated a Sporting side that rotated eight of 11 first-choice starters from the weekend prior.

Ilie Sanchez got the away goal, from the penalty spot, which should give at least one MLS team a fighting chance to reach the final four.

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Reigning MLS Cup champions Atlanta United have, perhaps, the next best chance of going through — and matching wits with Sporting in the semis — if only for the fact that their first-leg defeat occurred away from home. They have, however, the largest deficit to overcome on Wednesday: 3-0, against Liga MX powerhouse Monterrey.

For much of the first leg, Atlanta trailed 1-0, until the floodgates gave way in the final 10 minutes and Monterrey opened up what could very well be an insurmountable lead. Throw in the fact that Frank De Boer‘s side have looked a far cry from Tata Martino’s final edition of the Five Stripes — the one that tore MLS to shreds en route to the league title in its second season of existence — and a Sporting v. Monterrey matchup begins to look the best possible reality for neutral viewers north of the border.

[ MORE: Guardiola: Man City still “teenagers“ among UCL contenders ]

Then, there are the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo, each of whom trail 2-0 and hit the road for the decisive leg, against Santos Laguna and Tigres, respectively.

Houston held firm for more than 75 minutes, and though a scoreless draw would have left them in an unfavorable position ahead of Tuesday’s second leg, 0-0 would have been preferable to 0-2. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, were completely played off their home field and never looked up to the challenge of what is arguably Mexico’s most prolific side.

Should a second MLS side join Sporting in the semifinals — heck, if Sporting get there themselves, it’ll be a minor miracle — it’ll be an epic night that no one will soon forget.

PHOTOS: Trophy for MLS, Liga MX’s inaugural Campeones Cup

Photo credit: MLS
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MLS and Liga MX unveiled on Thursday the brand new trophy which will be awarded to either Toronto FC or Tigres at the conclusion of this month’s inaugural Campeones Cup at BMO Field.

[ MORE: New USMNT head coach to be hired by end of 2018 ]

The Campeones Cup, which beginning on Sept. 19 will be sought after by the respective reigning champions of the two North America leagues, “is made of silver and gilded with 24-karat gold leaf, featuring a petal harvesting an iconic gold one, representing the partnership between the two leagues as well as the North American bragging rights on offer for its winner.”

Campeones Cup trophy (Photo credit: MLS)

The trophy stands nearly 20 inches tall, over 6.6 inches wide, and weighs more than 21 pounds. It was designed and produced by metalsmith Jose Juan Marmolejo of a Mexico-based company, Izta Galerias.

Chivas Guadalajara wins 12th Liga MX title

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A nail-biting finish saw Chivas Guadalajara lift the 2016/17 Liga MX title, beating Apertura champions Tigres to earn the club’s 12th Liga MX title.

The title makes Guadalajara the joint-most successful club in Mexican top flight history, even with Club America on titles.

With the aggregate score at 2-2 coming into the second leg at Chivas Stadium, the home side took the lead on an 18th minute expert finish by former Tigres youth product Alan Pulido. Oswaldo Alanís delivered a brilliant deep, looping ball to the far post, and under one-on-one pressure with a defender, Pulido struck it first-time and buried the ball into the far corner.

The game waited until midway through the second half for the next strike, as the eventual winner would fall to Jose Vazquez. The 29-year-old charged down a bounding ball that Tigres failed to clear, and his effort on net took a sizeable deflection off the midsection of a visiting defender, leaving the ball to trickle in uncontested.

Despite a 4-2 aggregate lead, it was by no means comfortable down the stretch for Chivas. Tigres pulled one back in the 88th minute on a fabulous strike by Ismael Sosa from just outside the top of the box. The visitors pressed for a stunning late equalizer, but it wasn’t to be.

The title is sweet for Chivas, who has endured a decade of struggles since winning its last championship, even coming close to relegation at times. In addition, the starting lineup for the second leg was fully domestic from top to bottom, with all 11 players from Mexico. On that same note, Pulido outdueled expensive Tigres striker Andre-Pierre Gignac, putting in on of the most impressive shifts of the match.