RSL Fires Head Coach Mike Petke

Aug 11, 2019, 8:34 PM | Updated: Aug 12, 2019, 9:04 am
(Photo by Peter Lous/Soccrates/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Peter Lous/Soccrates/Getty Images)
(Photo by Peter Lous/Soccrates/Getty Images)

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake announced that they have terminated the contract of head coach Mike Petke. Assistant coach Freddy Juarez was named interim head coach for the remainder of the 2019 season.

The club has issued the following statement:

“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 club will have no further comment at this time.


Petke just finished serving a three-game suspension that was handed out by Major League Soccer following inappropriate conduct towards the official after RSL lost to Tigres UANL in the Leagues Cup on July 24 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

In the 92nd minute of the match, French international André-Pierre Gignac was running with the ball near the sideline when a cat suddenly ran onto the field, hitting the ball. Gignac continued down the field, and several seconds later took a shot on goal that went right of the net.

Rather than calling the goal kick for RSL at a time when they hoped to make another strike at goal to even the score, the official called interference on the cat, giving Tigres the ball.

Despite spending a fair amount of time deciding on the interference call, no additional extra time was added, and the match ended.

Petke approached the officials and engaged in a verbal altercation.

After the match, Petke got into a verbal altercation with the officials. Something was said, and he received a red card.

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According to reports, the coach began screaming a homophobic slur in Spanish at the referees. The altercation continued in the tunnel, where Petke made a handwritten sign with the slur on it and showed it to the referees.

In addition to the suspension, Petke was fined $25,000. RSL added to the punishment by suspending Petke from all team activities for two weeks. In all, they were the steepest sanctions ever imposed on an MLS coach.

After the match, he explained what happened.

“The red card, if you go back and look at the video tape, I am pulling five of my players away and talking to my players and he (official) gives me a red card,” Petke said. “He must have thought I was talking to him, I don’t know. Then afterwards, it was just extra, I told him how I felt. But the red card, I was just pulling them (his players) away. I was just telling my players to get back to the locker room.”

“Maybe he was still thinking about the four minutes they put up and the cat running on the field, allowing the player to take a shot on goal over ten seconds later and then for some reason giving them (Tigres) the ball back for an additional reason after all arguing with our players for one minute and then stopping the match at exactly four minutes but, all that I was doing was grabbing my players,” Petke added.

Petke originally joined Real Salt Lake to coach their USL club Real Monarchs and held the position for three months before being named the head coach of Real Salt Lake in March 2017 when RSL fired coach Jeff Cassar.

The interim head coach Freddy Juarez has done well while filling in as acting head coach when Petke was serving his suspension. They played FC Dallas to a 0-0 draw on the road, beat New York City FC 3-1 at home and recently beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on the road.

Real Salt Lake will host the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., with the pre-game show starting 30 minutes earlier. The match will be streamed at or the KSL TV app.

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