On Wednesday, Real Salt Lake announced Mike Petke as the team’s new head coach. This move comes after RSL fired Jeff Cassar last week due to a poor start to the 2017 campaign. Petke joined the organization in late in 2016, as head coach of the Real Monarchs, the USL affiliate. He coached that team through the preseason and to a road win again the Timbers 2 in the Monarchs season opener.
General Manager Craig Waibel had this to say about the hiring, “”Mike won a Supporters Shield, he’s managed high-profile players, he enjoyed a great playing career. There’s almost nothing he hasn’t seen in the sport in this country, and integrating someone with his experience, intelligence, and teaching ability into our organization will pay dividends up and down our pyramid, from the academy teams to the Monarchs to the first team.”
As a player, Petke graced the fields of MLS for 14 seasons, playing for the NY/NJ MetroStars, D.C United, the Colorado Rapids and the New York Red Bulls. During that time, he made 307 appearances, scored 16 goals and helped D.C United win the MLS Cup in 2004. Throughout his time as a MetroStar & Red Bull, he became a fan favorite.
Previously, Petke was the head coach of the New York Red Bulls for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. During that time, he coached the team to two playoff appearances, a 2013 Supporter’s Shield, and a 41.46% win percentage.
During his time as head coach of the Red Bulls, Petke excelled at man management. His players fought hard and strove to win. They met the epitome of ‘play hard’ and were a ‘blue collar’ team. But his coaching skills did have their flaws. Petke wasn’t a genius tactician. It has been rumored that Thierry Henry was the team tactician during Petke’s tenure at the Red Bulls. And if that is true, RSL fans should hope that Petke has learned a thing or two since 2014.
Petke will open his tenure as RSL head coach next Saturday against Vancouver. For this weekend, interim head coach Daryl Shore will lead the team against Minnesota, who have allowed 18 goals in their first 4 games.
Personally, I’ll be awaiting his start at Real Salt Lake and hopefully the resurgence of the twitter handle @PetkesSweater.