Mike Petke lost his mind on Saturday night in Minnesota both in the match and afterwards. If you haven’t yet seen his post-match rant you can find it right here. This wasn’t some crazed coach coming unhinged because he felt like his team was getting the worse end of calls from a referee, though Real Salt Lake and Petke might have an argument there. No, this was a the reaction of a lifelong soccer guy, who has seen enough inconsistency, as both a player and a coach, from Major League Soccer and PRO Referees. Petke reached his breaking point and the tirade was the result. Petke simply gave voice to what fellow coaches, players around the league and fans have known for a while, that there is a wild inconsistency with how referees in Major League Soccer call matches and utilize VAR.
The message from Mike Petke was spot-on, the way it was delivered probably could have come with a better tone. Petke dared Major League Soccer to “Drain his bank account” and on Tuesday they did just that. MLS fined Petke $10,000 and suspended him for two matches. This penalty seems exceedingly harsh even for Major League Soccer, who clearly were trying to send a message to Coaches and Players. That message being..”Don’t publicly criticize us or our officials”. Mike Petke joined me on my radio show on ESPN 700 on Wednesday, where he broke the news of the fine and suspension, you can listen to the entirety of that conversation here.
So Petke will miss two games on the sidelines with RSL as they play Colorado and San Jose in the next two weeks. I think that Major League Soccer blew a golden opportunity to address some real issues that are plaguing the league right now and turn what was a negative situation into a potential road to positive change. Instead of dropping the “hammer” on the RSL Coach for his post-game comments. Don Garber and Major League Soccer could have issued a stern public reprimand and warning to Mike Petke and others in the League about such public comments in the future, then using the tirade as a jumping on point for discussion and potential reform and improvement of VAR and communication between referees and coaches in Major League Soccer. Instead, Major League Soccer decided to publicly ignore an issue that is obvious for all to see and levee an excessive fine on someone that is as passionate about his sports as anyone you’ll find in the League.
There is blame on all sides here. Petke for losing his cool in a very public way and challenging Major League Soccer to fine him. PRO Referee for their consistent inconsistency on the pitch and Major League Soccer for wearing their blinders and ignoring the situation. One of those three parties had a chance to turn a negative into a potential positive and chose not too. Which is too bad for Mike Petke and for those who want the best possible product on the field for Major League Soccer.
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