If you’ve even casually been following MLS for more than a couple years, chances are you already know who Mike Petke is. He’s just been named as head coach of the Real Monarchs, but this is far from his first job — he’s been around the league for a long time.
A three-time MLS All-Star, Petke played for a few different teams as a defender for 13 years, spending the bulk of his time in New York — with the MetroStars from 1998-2002, and most recently the New York Red Bulls from 2009-2010, after which he announced his retirement.
During his final season as a player, he helped the Red Bulls win the Eastern Conference regular season title. Throughout his playing career, he scored 13 goals and notched four assists in MLS, and at the time had earned his place as the all-time cap leader in New York, with 197 appearances across all competitions. That record has since been broken by current NYRB midfielder Dax McCarty.
Not long after retirement, he stayed in New York and was hired on as the Manager of Business Operations for the Red Bulls, but was quickly made an assistant coach in 2011 under then-coach Hans Backe.
After the Red Bulls crashed out of the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs, the organization swiftly announced that Backe’s contract wouldn’t be renewed, and Petke was eventually named as his full-time replacement.
In his first year as head coach of the Red Bulls, he led the club to their first-ever Supporters’ Shield win, although they lost to the Houston Dynamo in the first round of the playoffs.
After another decently successful year in 2014 — losing to New England in the Eastern Conference Finals — the club fired Petke in January of 2015 in a surprise announcement that incited a huge backlash from the New York fanbase.
Since his last stint as head coach, he’s served as a color commentator on ONE World Sports, and was named the Director of Coaching for the New Jersey State Youth Soccer Association.
Earlier today, RSL commentator Brian Dunseth broke the Petke hiring news via Twitter.
This is certainly good news for the entire Real Salt Lake organization, who’s adding a well-versed and very experienced person to the ranks, who can take the reins and help immensely with player development, to say the least.
The 40-year-old will be filling the void left by Freddy Juarez, who was just recently named an assistant coach for RSL proper.
Before Jeff Cassar was offered his extension at the end of this last season, many fans had been calling on the RSL front office to hire Mike Petke as his replacement. This isn’t quite what they had in mind, but I think everyone can agree that this is a solid move for the club all-around.
Not to mention that the hiring could put some pressure on Cassar himself.
As for a future with Petke and the RSL first team coaching staff? Only time will tell. In the meantime, it’ll be exciting to see what he can accomplish in charge of our USL side.