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Petke “honored and privileged” to coach Red Bulls


After spending ten years serving the club in multiple capacities, as a player, assistant coach and interim coach, Mike Petke finally has his wish come true: he is head coach of the New York Red Bulls.

“I’m honored and I feel privileged to have been put in this situation that I’m in right now,” Petke said in a conference call with the media Thursday.  “Obviously, all you guys know how I feel about this organization, how I always have.”

Petke spent eight years as a player for the Red Bulls/Metrostars in two separate stints, making 169 appearances as a defender.  The New York native then spent two years as an assistant to Hans Backe before being named interim head coach in November following Backe’s dismissal.  Through Petke’s decade of service, he has forged a reputation of conducting himself very professionally, taking pride in the way he represents the Red Bull organization.

“Mike had been on the radar and part of the selection process since, I would say, after the first few weeks,” sporting director Andy Roxburgh said.  “He’s charismatic, he’s well organized and he gets the respect of the players.  What’s very important in all of this is that Mike is very experienced in terms of the MLS.  If you brought a coach in from Europe, he might be experienced in Europe, but he would be totally inexperienced here in the US.  Mike starts with an enormous advantage because he knows everybody, he knows the league and he’s absolutely passionate about the club.”

The Red Bulls drawn out search for a new head coach has been well documented in the media between rumored courtships of former Scottish international Gary McAllister and former Portuguese international Paulo Sousa, with sources telling SBI that Sousa had accepted the position before ultimately backing away from the job. Roxburgh wouldn’t address claims that the job was turned down by other candidates, and would only say that the club took their time on purpose and the Red Bulls had indeed inquired about other possibilities before deciding on Mike Petke.

“We had to try to assess all options and we had spoken with a number of people,” Roxburgh said. ” We had inquired about the possibilities of some others.  But whether people were appropriate, whether they were available, all the various things [didn’t work out].

“Right from day one, we actually thought we would like to have a young, hungry coach who could be adaptable and who could relate to this [league and club].  And right away, Mike checked all those boxes but I think it was appropriate for us to go through all of the process.”

Mike Petke wouldn’t tip his hand at specific tactics or formations but did say that the team would take on his personality as a player.

“One thing we will do is fight from the first whistle to the last whistle,” Petke said.  “The other thing we will do is fight for each other.  Not just the players on the field but the players on the bench and the organization as well, to represent them the way that I’ve always represented them and it’s going to trickle down to these players.  We are going to be what I hope to be an entertaining form of soccer.  But at the end of the day, we’re going to leave everything out on the field.”

“Now does that translate to success on the field?  We’re going to find that out,” Petke said. “These guys are hungry.  They’re willing to get behind me and it’s going to be a good ride.”


  1. I’ve enjoyed watching Petke since he played for the Metro Stars. I was happy to see him return to the Red Bulls as his career winded down. Surprised when the Red Bulls had sense enough to keep him as a coach with a with a NSL background. I only hope they treat him better than the Metros treated Bruce Arena when he coached in Jersey and give him enough time to develope a team that plays together and with great gusto. Someone was worried about Henri. No one wants to win more than Henri and Petke……and together they can do it.

  2. This will turn out to be a blessing in disguise for NYRB. Trying to get a European or Latin coach to figure out the complex nature of MLS salary cap and player contracts has proved to be extremely difficult.

    The only Euro or Latin managers out there who have ever worked started coaching MLS at or near the birth of the league and have watched it grow (Sigi, Nowak, etc.). Petke was a career MLS guy, he’s not flashy but he knows how the league works and what wins.

    Instead of getting frustrated at all the complications within MLS like “allocation money”, the draft, homegrown and DP rules, MLS negotiated contracts instead of by club, not breaking for international dates, etc, etc, he can get straight to it and already knows those obstacles and can manage to it.

    I’m not a RB fan, still hoping ATL gets a team soon enough, but I hope he’s is successful and wins many trophies with the RB. NY is our biggest media market and a winning successful franchise in tha market is essential for the continued growth of the league and getting more media recognition to boost the league.

  3. I truly believe this was there first consideration all along. They waited too long to announce it. Look at the responsibility that was bestowed on him. They should have made announce just prior to draft would have saved a lot of eggs. But one can not argue timing when you get it right. RBNY needs Petke now more than ever. Why? 2 stadium proposals, one w/rendering got more press than RB coaching vacancy. Put it this way. They have 3 more yrs to mature in this market.

  4. Ex MLS stalwar playerss have done pretty well as coaches:

    Successes (so far):
    Kreis, Olsen, Vermes, Klopas, Heaps

    Novak, Marsch,

    There are probably others I’m forgetting…

  5. As a fan, I was excited to hear that Petke was going to be the Head Coach but I think his lack of experince will be too much of an obstacle for him.

    • Trying to be high profile is what has gotten New York into the mess (no trophies) that it is in. As a DC supporter, I can only hope that this is an aberration and New York will go back to trying to be “high profile” and inevitably losing.

    • its more like yuo’re the ugly girl, and the captain of the football team just reluctantly agreed to take you becuase everyone else was taken. You’d be elated to have such an awesome situation, regardless of how you got there.

      Petke is a smart, logical dude, he understands the position that the FO was in, looking for a big name. I”m sure he’s elated he’s getting the chance

  6. Seems like a solid dude. Red Bull fans for the most part seem to embrace the hire. Given the fact that Euro’s never have much success in MLS this may be a blessing in disguise for NYRB.

  7. HAHAHAHAHAHA…… I remember this guy for so many reasons, most of which is he was an easy target for opposing supporters. I mean really, this guy F*ed up so many times it was a pleasure to play against him. The best thing about him was his confidence. Never shyed away, almost always lost the challenge. This guy could turn out to be another Vermes in his defence. Petke already has more coaching experience, Vermes was a Youth organization director (biggest in KC then, and still to this day, which Vermes still runs) . Then he was a TD, who hired Onalfo as the new owners first head coach.

    Best of luck to him, though I am not too scared of him or his mind.

  8. I like it, they’ll be sound team if they let him do what he wants. First step get rid of the bad attitudes and softies and concentrate on a stout back four. What absolutely won’t work is if Henry thinks he has the latitude to dictate to Petke. Honestly, I really don’t see them being able to coexist. Petke will have a better chance of success if he can get rid of Henry and his mopey crap attitude…bring in some new blood up top…guys that won’t shut it down because they have to play on turf, or in Houston when its hot. RB will always be able to attract high end Euro offensive talent…they just need to let Petke do his thing and put a gritty hard working team behind that talent.

  9. Super stoked for Petke! He’s the best American coach for us right now and I hope he gets the time he needs to get it together.
    On the other hand I was never into having a disloyal opportunist such as Sousa. The manager of a Hungarian video store? Please give me a break

    Kick a$$ Petke show where you come from homie!

  10. Why don’t you other commentors give Petke a chance to actually coach the team before you start writing him off as “not right for the job” and “won’t be around long”.

  11. As for me I don’t like the selection, due to fact we are talking about New York New Jersey red bulls. For instance will kaka, drogba, anelka, lampard come to red bull and play for “petke” I just think red bull could of done better with a south american or even american coach but i would have love a top european coach. If there was another bruce arena or at least koplas, I would have gone for something like that, but its new york and red bull obviously do not get the point. At the end of the day, there is only one big daddy and that’s the galaxy for the Mls. I guess seattle, chicago,red bull, tfc, new england, philly will never learn. So in other words, Mls is a small market league where no big managers or players will come to support a big market.

    • A “big player” will recognize a good coach no matter the background. MLS is a small market league right now why pretend to be otherwise? Maybe if the Metros focused on winning a few cups (or even one cup of any sort) they would develop a winning tradition. Instead, they focus on the big names and flop on their faces every time. And my other hope is that some of these “big players” learn that there are other teams out there besides the train wreck that is New York.

  12. Good for Petke. Unfortunately, I hope he has an updated resumé always handy. He’s going to need it soon, given the tendencies of the global RB management. If he devotes a good amount of time to ingratiating himself with Houllier, he may win a week or two to pick up some nice bond paper to print it on.

  13. I m happy for mike and for all those people who believe hell have run ins with henry trust me he won’t because I’m sure red bull front office ran this by th14 before he was given the green light remember backe was here before Henry and they seemed ok together plus no rafa and u have a good guy in Cahill u can’t complain now if Petke can get them to play like a team then they’ll b set still need 2 midfielders n a forward cuz the roster is only 21 as of now

  14. one of RBNY’s new mandates is to reach out to the community. this definitely does that. i hope news spread about the long island native.


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