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RSL coach Petke gets message across in pointed postgame press conference

SANDY — Mike Petke was a man on a mission when he marched into the postgame press conference Saturday night.

Real Salt Lake’s coach had printouts in hand and was ready to make a passionate presentation to the media — knowing full well that the higher-ups at MLS would hear every word of his rant.

Still upset about Kyle Beckerman’s red card not being reversed, Petke opened his press conference by handing out a picture of a Kansas City player who in the previous game against Philadelphia put his hands on the throat of an opponent right in front of the referee. No card was given, and nothing happened retroactively.

Contrasting it with Beckerman’s situation Petke expressed disappointment with the inconsistency from the league.

The second picture he passed out — which Petke said is why he ultimately got ejected in the 72nd minute — is of Joao Plata getting grabbed by a defender as they raced to the ball. No foul was called.

“We had a player put through on a breakaway, could’ve 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,” said Petke.

“I am who I am. I apologized to my players, I’ve apologized to my boss. I’ve apologized to my fans. 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 and bought in.”

The day before on the Bill Riley Show on ESPN700, Petke said he was disgusted and beside himself when the league did not reverse Beckerman’s red card. He didn’t hold back and said he believes Real Salt Lake is being targeted by the refs with some of the calls and no calls.

Between all the comments, Petke can expect a fine and probably a suspension from the league which will force him to miss this Saturday’s home game against Columbus. He knew that was likely when he starting making his calculated comments, but more important to him he got his statements across, and social media was buzzing locally and nationally on Saturday.

The draw against Kansas City leaves RSL in eighth place in the Western Conference, while all the teams it’s chasing for a playoff spot have played fewer games.

Petke said that 48 points is the magic number to make the playoffs based on the past five-year average and that settling for a draw at home means RSL just needs to pick up more points on the road to make up for it along the way.

“If you slip up someplace you make it up on the back end. I have full confidence in this team. We have superb players. At the end of the day, if we do the things we are capable of, we’re going to get in the playoffs. We’re going to make a run,” said Petke.

A couple weeks ago nobody would’ve believed him, but with seven points in the past three games, Real Salt Lake looks like it will be a factor in the second half of the season.