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Petke: Real Monarchs opportunity was “too big to pass up,” wasn’t about first-team job

The former RBNY coach is clear that his hiring as Real Monarchs coach wasn’t as just a stepping stone to Real Salt Lake.

Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Real Salt Lake’s new coach, Mike Petke, joined the organization only three months ago as the head of Real Monarchs.

At the time, rumors started flying that he was the heir apparent to Jeff Cassar’s coaching position. When leaks started making their way out last night, it was more or less assumed that Petke wasn’t actually at Real Monarchs for Real Monarchs proper.

But during today’s press conference announcing his hiring, Petke was quick to quash that idea — but he also noted that he’d thought about it, too.

“The opportunity with the Monarchs was too big to pass up,” he said. “My soul, up until last night ... I was happy and thrilled to be the Monarchs coach. Did I think this could be an opportunity down the line? Yes, but long down the line.”

RSL general manager Craig Waibel offered corroboration, saying that in initial conversations with Petke, he and RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen were clear that they were interested in having him join as Real Monarchs coach.

“(We said,) ‘We’re interviewing you for the Monarchs job, and if you have an interest in the RSL job, this meeting’s done.’,” Waibel said during the press conference. “The point is plain and simple. We were not in any way shape or form replacing anyone on our first team staff. There was never a conversation other than the one comment I made, which was pretty black-and-white.”

Waibel made clear, though, that there were advantages to hiring a coach with MLS experience to the position.

“The bonus we had was we were bringing a coach in with MLS experience and understands how an organization works,” he said. “To be able to place a successful MLS coach into that position quickly integrated the entire organization, between Jeff (Cassar), Martin (Vasquez) and Mike (Petke).

“It was clear as day that the intention was not anything other than the Monarchs job. It was made clear as day to Mike, and that’s how the relationship started.”