After their Week 5 home loss to FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake find themselves in a three-game losing streak. One common thread that has emerge across all three losses: red cards.
"He really sold it," RSL head coach Mike Petke said in his postgame comments about Gruezo. "It was a very soft contact."
"Do I think that Dami meant to get up and headbutt him [Gruezo]? No, not at all," Petke continued. "If anybody knows Damir, he's the calmest guy on our team. Do I think he got up and headbutted him? No I don't. But that's just my opinion."
Petke also encouraged reporters to speak to Kreilach about the incident.
"Tell him [Kreilach] to put his shorts on and show you the inside of his leg -- the five, five-inch stud marks going down his leg," Petke said. "Now, am I excusing a red card if he did get up and headbutt him? I'm still not convinced he did. But not at all -- I'm not excusing that. But it was pretty clear that there was a stomp on his leg."
The RSL manager faced several questions about the red card theme that has been a constant in the last three matches. Of the 14 red cards in MLS through Week 5, four of those were shown at RSL players. That's more than any other team (Colorado have seen three red cards).
In addition to Kreilach, Justin Portillo was sent off in Week 4 at LAFC with the score still 1-1 and both Jefferson Savarino (first-half stoppage time) and Marcelo Silva (67th minute) got their marching orders in a 5-0 Week 3 loss at D.C. United.
RSL secured a win and a draw in the two matches they finished with 11 men and Petke was convinced that "if we finish 11 v. 11 [vs. FC Dallas], we win this game tonight."
"Don't get red cards, simple as that," he said. "How do you discuss that [with players]? I played. There's passion that goes into it. I've said this for 20 years now: Players are not robots. It's not a remote-controlled game. I wish it was.
"Is there anything they could do? Yes. Control their emotions? But this is coming from a coach who has not controlled his emotions once in 43 years on this earth," Petke continued. "So maybe it's my fault -- my vibe to them. My intensity. I don't know. I'm not faulting them. It is what it is."