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Mike Petke embodies the spirit of Utah

It’s fitting that Petke’s biggest RSL moment came just before Utah’s state holiday.

MLS: Sporting KC at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take long for Mike Petke to be cemented into Real Salt Lake history, and he did it on Saturday night with the press conference we just can’t stop talking about.

But it wasn’t just press conference that did it, of course. It was all about the attitude, the style, and the honesty, consequences be damned. In a way, this was when he really started to embody the spirit that elevated RSL to the position we found ourselves in from 2009 to 2013.

I’m not going to compare Petke with Jason Kreis — not on the field, at least. RSL under Petke exists in an MLS that is markedly different than the MLS in which RSL existed under Kreis. There’s no sense in comparing the two that way, simply because the playing field has significantly changed. That’s in no small way due to the infusion of targeted allocation money that really changed the playing field for the league.

I’m not making this comparison simply because both occasionally put referees on blast, as interesting as that fact is. Many coaches do that very thing, but that doesn’t make them special.

But what’s been important about Petke is that he’s done all this in spite of any potential consequences. He knows full well that he might have just earned himself a sideline ban, but he’s being principled about it. If there’s one thing we’ve learned to love in Utah over our 170-year history as an establishment, and our 121-year history as one of the United States of America, it’s this: Being principled is more important than nearly anything.

That’s an attitude you’ll see embodied across wide swathes of Utahns without regard to religious affiliation. It’s maybe the biggest commonality: People want their leaders to be principled, bold and unafraid of consequences. It’s a driving force here.

On this Pioneer Day — or, if you’d rather, Pie and Beer Day — let’s celebrate Mike Petke, just for a minute.