Epic: Mike Petke gets something off his chest

Real Salt Lake's Mike Petke was ejected in the 72nd minute of his team's 1-1 tie with Sporting Kansas City, which was the Western Conference leader at the beginning of the evening.

The match followed road wins of 6-2 and 4-1 at the LA Galaxy and Portland that punctuated RSL's revival after a disastrous start to the 2017 MLS season that resulted in Petke's hiring as head coach in place of Jeff Cassar.

Petke's frustration boiled over in the 72nd minute when he was tossed for saying something to the fourth official. That gave him plenty of time to prepare for his post-game press conference -- photos and all -- that will go down as the most colorful in the history of MLS without even the need for an expletive deleted.

(Click on link or Facebook icon on screen to hear audio.)

He apologized to his players, bosses and fans, but he said there was nothing that could change him for going off on what he perceived to be injustices, including captain Kyle Beckerman's red card in the 4-1 win over Portland on Wednesday that kept out of Saturday's game.

Petke said he'd have presented more evidence of calls he couldn't understand but for the "fricking printer" not working.

"If I do not act the way I do," he said, "I can't sleep for the next four weeks."

We're sure he slept soundly on Saturday night.

Petke in full ...

“Before we get started, do you got your cameras rolling? You have your radio, recording devices on? Get them on.  We good?  This is all I am going to say about me tonight, it's all I want to say about anything that happened yesterday with Kyle, so no questions about that after this.  It is going to be met with “no comment” OK?

"Here is why I got ejected tonight, and it is on me.  I apologized to my players already, I apologized to my boss, who is standing back there, Craig [Waibel].  I am going to apologize to my owner and I apologize to the fans right now.  But I could have released this, I could have went on Twitter, or done whatever but here you go, Trey [FitzGerald], hand them out?  When Kyle Beckerman gets fined in the run of play literally extending his arm.  Yet the last game that Kansas City played this picture, this happened with the number 6, [Ilie] Sanchez, who is a great player, valuable player for Kansas City with the hand around the throat of a player from Philadelphia with the referee looking straight there, look at his eyes.  He is looking straight there, and then the whatever committee it is that can review this, sees all of this, nothing has happened.

"Kyle Beckerman is suspended for extending his arm while the player is coming away from our goal and Kyle is running towards our goal.  No goal scoring threat, that is one.  Why I got a red card tonight, or I don’t think they do red cards for coaches do they, Craig? They just eject you.

"Why I got ejected tonight, this is the play right here, hand these out, Trey.  We had a player put through on a breakaway, could have been a breakaway, you see the still frame right here of him in a headlock, in a freaking headlock.  Nothing is called, and then the ball goes back the other way, there a whatever foul on Tony Beltran or Luke [Mulholland] or I don’t even know at this point, there is a foul called that puts them in a goal scoring opportunity for a free kick.  I am who I am, I have apologized to my players, I have apologized to my boss again, I have apologized to fans.  I cannot, if I do not act the way I do, I can’t sleep the next four weeks.

"I have players here that over the last couple of games have given me everything, have bought in, everything.  Tonight they have given me everything, the one thing I will say about tonight is that we were a bit sluggish.  Perhaps we were a bit sluggish because of the workout we have put in over our last two league wins and the 10-12 days I had with them, that is on me.  These guys have given me everything.  I am not going to answer on why I got ejected but look at this two pictures, I have two more that the freaking printer didn’t work so I couldn’t print it up.  I will get you those slides as well ok?  OK, now I am good, now I am good. Questions?”

13 comments about "Epic: Mike Petke gets something off his chest".
  1. Gary Levitt, July 23, 2017 at 9:21 a.m.

    There are always three "takes" on every situation (Petke's, the Ref, and what really happened). With that said, I have to agree with Petke that the men in the middle of a lot of MLS matches for the most part have a long way to go. I was at the ORL v ATL match Friday night. It was apparent after the 15th min that the ref had minimal control of the match and made poor decisions. I know the MLS has the former EPL ref running the show now and that man has a lot of work to do. As a benchmark, look at the performance of last night's ref in the US v CR game. Right from the beginning he set the tone and ensured that the players understood who was managing the game. There is a big gap between that gentleman and the majority of refs in the MLS. Hopefully, just as the level of play in the MLS has increased, the performance of the man in the middle will get better as well.

  2. Ric Fonseca replied, July 23, 2017 at 3:52 p.m.

    Gary, you've some good points, however, your citation of the US/CR game, the game official had a poor first half, and not just because Arena was captured by tv being very vociferously and gesticulating, and saying some colorful words. Daring to delve into international biases the center ref is Salvadoreno (and didn't he do a US/CR game previously), the fourth official from Mexico (I'm Mexicano) and so, one would and could form an opinion that perhaps Arena was justified as some calls that went in favor of CR were most certainly questionable, AND vice versa.As for MLS officials, as I asked before, why in heaven's sake does the MLS honchos opt to bring a Brit to run our referees organization perhaps aptly called "PRO - Professional Referees Organization" Heck, put Dr. Joe Machnik to work running the corps of MLS officials, 'cause I am very sure that he can and would/will find more officials to assist him nationally.... Jeez, just like they have the NSCAA with several thousand coaches, why in Carmen San Diego can't we have a similar organization/association - oh wait a minute, doesn't US Soccer have such an organization? Lastly, let's just say PLAY ON!!!

  3. beautiful game, July 23, 2017 at 10:26 a.m.

    Global refereeing is inconsistent in applying the LOTG and FIFA is not doing it job in promoting fair play. A foul is a foul no matter how much time on the clock. Time to clean up the game from thuggery.

  4. Ric Fonseca replied, July 23, 2017 at 3:55 p.m.

    Hola and buenos dias I w: Question: Have you ever officiated a game at any, and I mean any level, from little ones, to rec, competitive youth, scholastic, local weekend leagues, collegiate? Just checking! PLAY ON!!!

  5. Asa Christiana, July 23, 2017 at 2:36 p.m.

    Half of the refs in MLS are terrible. They have technical shortcomings of course, but the main problem is personality and mentality. Maybe the two go hand in hand because I see the refs behaving from a position of insecurity. They make bad calls, then they make makeup calls, and when players yell and get in their face, they don't know how to handle it so they start acting like petulant children, handing out ridiculous cards, applying the LOTG differently, losing their composure, etc. It all adds up to a huge inconsistency in their calls. I know it drives coaches nuts, and it drives those of use who know the game crazy too. Great refs have presence, and don't need to TRY to assert their authority. They just have it. That then lets them then make every call individually, with consistency in how they apply the LOTG. Those are the personality types MLS needs to recruit, IMHO.

  6. Ric Fonseca, July 23, 2017 at 3:57 p.m.

    How do other professional sports recruit, train, manage, and praise or punish their game officials?

  7. R2 Dad replied, July 24, 2017 at 5:16 a.m.

    Hi Ric, I could make the case that the NBA has a bigger problem than MLS/CONCACAF with respect to officiating. While I am not a licensed basketball referee, I've played/watched the game long enough to have an semi-educated opinion. Over the past 10 years the NBA has to deal with these "developments": 1) flopping--unheard of in basketball before 2000, now a weekly issue https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EopwmD3QaY 2) traveling--when was the last time an official whistled for more than 2-1/2 steps? Apparently I'm not the only old stick-in-the-mud on this point https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSZGCfKvlTI 3) Flagrant fouls - started in 1991 season, now Flagrant 1 and Flagrant 2 because there are two flavors of unacceptable behavior though only 2 is eject-able. They've incrementalized bad behavior instead of eliminating it. 4) slow motion instant replay makes every incorrect call instantly obvious.

  8. Ginger Peeler, July 24, 2017 at 8:36 a.m.

    Well, I loved Petke's rant! I was actually laughing with delight when he passed out copies of photos of nasty fouls that were never called. I cannot count the many times I've yelled at a soccer ref for a bad call (perhaps for what he thought he saw) while fuming over what he missed!!! Sad to say, my tv always remains unresponsive. I, for one, will welcome the 5th official watching the film of the MLS games. The problem will remain that the center ref can ignore concrete evidence that TLOTG have been violated and call nothing. Referee's discretion. In the meantime, bravo, Mike Petke, for showing it like it is! Your rant made my day when I watched it yesterday.

  9. beautiful game, July 24, 2017 at 10:18 a.m.

    I would suggest that soccer referees are instructed to keep the game going and overlook violations "mild thuggery". Unfortunately for this oversight, the players learn quick with what they can get away with. That's what gets the refs in trouble and the game gets out of hand.

  10. len bilous, July 24, 2017 at 12:59 p.m.

    Refereeing is the only part of the game without incentives.

    Wether a ref does a great job or a horrible job, the pay-check is the same.

    You can incentivise the game by reducing the pay for below average officiating and increase it for above average officiating (coaches rate referees...add up the scores and divide by 2 for your average score)

    Additionally, training referees does not include referees playing in a game...add that component to their training so that they too can experience the game and how calls or no-calls effect the game.

    Finally FIFA needs to invest in interactive virtual training systems so referees can practice as much as the players (or more) since currently their only practice is the actual game...which equates to NO GAME PREPARATON AT ALL (seeing something that may only happen once in 50 games, does not make for a quick reaction/decision and often there is enough hesitation that the referee makes NO DECISION at all...if they can see plays online and have to make calls online or virtually, this issue can also be addressed)

  11. R2 Dad replied, July 24, 2017 at 6:03 p.m.

    Len, I don't think any referee is in it for the money--they only make fractions of what professional soccer players make. I like the idea of grading the official, but at the professional level coaches aren't the right people to do it. I'll tell you what, I'd like players to have access to referee discussions, not in their league but perhaps in another confederation, to hear or read what referees are discussing with the ARs, etc et Players could benefit from hearing the official's side of things, discussions about man management, what they liked and didn't like--more information is always better; daylight makes the best disinfectant. As far as referee preparation goes, you might be surprised how much prep top officials do regarding the players, their history, preferences, rivalries. Top matches can have a couple of hours of officiating crew prep just before the match, not to mention individual study of the grounds, fans, weather, match-ups--the FIFA-rated officials really are amazingly detailed ahead of a match. Yes, there is a difference between an MLS ref and a FIFA one--we should always encourage US officials to be FIFA-rated if at all possible. The downside is to be a FIFA ref is to join an incredibly boring cult. No publicly confrontational comments, healthy lifestyle only, fit beyond belief--it's like a convent for football officials, really.

  12. Nick Daverese, July 25, 2017 at 7:01 a.m.

    I like the way Petke made his case. He used surveillance pictures :) The in part helped the FBI get Gotti in part :) But that is not the whole picture that tells it all. You need more then that I can imagine Petke holding up a Parabolic microphone facing the official while the game is going on. :)

  13. Ginger Peeler, July 25, 2017 at 8:56 a.m.

    Len, coaches do not determine a referee's performance. There are official referee assessors who grade a referee's performance. These assessors have to be able to pass the referee's TLOTG courses and pass the same rigorous physical testing as the referee candidates. Then they're taught how to evaluate the refs. Incentives for refs? The really good ones are given "extra curricular" games. So, besides calling local adult league games, they are given MLS games to call. If they make good MLS refs, they may be called to ref a Gold Cup game. The best of the best call the World Cup games (we've [the USA] had a couple centers: Esse Baharnast and Mark Geiger). If they call a good game, they're given another. If they screw up, they're sent home. The problem and inconsistencies come from the different application of TLOTG in the various professional leagues the referees are coming from. For instance, the ref who handled the USA/El Salvador game allowed a lot of outrageous fouls without calling them. Many teams will "play to the whistle". In the first couple minutes of the game, they will engage in various fouls to see if the refs will call them, and then, if they've got a "let it all hang out" ref, they will foul without worry. The danger to the players being injured can be very high. The referee who centered the USA/Costa Rica game called a tight game, which avoided the egregious fouls of the USA/El Salvador game, but broke up the flow of the game. And he didn't necessarily call the foul on the correct player. But it was definitely a safer game to play in.

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