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Red Bulls players dedicate Supporters Shield to Petke

Mike Petke

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If there’s one person on the New York Red Bulls who truly understands the magnitude of Sunday evening’s 5-2 victory against the Chicago Fire, it’s head coach Mike Petke.

Following the match, Petke and the team came together in front of the South Ward, where the most fervent of Red Bulls supporters stand and cheer game in and game out, and along with equipment manager Fernando Ruiz and his son Sean, who have been with the team since it’s inception in 1996, lifted the Supporters Shield aloft.

It was just another special moment in a season of surpassing expectations for the former Metrostars and Red Bulls defender.

“For Petke and Fernando to lift the trophy, it was a special touch,” said Tim Cahill. “I remember at the start of the season when the big name managers were touted about to bring success to this football club but this guy (Petke) is the heart and soul. He knows what it is to be a New York Red Bull.”

“For a guy that shows so much passion and for a guy that’s in his first year as a head coach, he really put him imprint on this team,” Dax McCarty said. “I think the saying is very true, you play to the image of your coach. Sometimes it hasn’t been pretty or great but at the end of the day, you know that we’re going to come and battle and we’re going to fight and be up for a scrap, and that all starts with Mike.

“It’s a joy to be able to win this for him. I know it’s been a long season for him, I can definitely see a couple more grey hairs on him.”

Though the Supporters Shield is a terrific accomplishment for the franchise, the players on the team were all unanimous that they wouldn’t be truly satisfied unless they were hoisting the MLS Cup trophy high above their heads on December 7.

And maybe with the “curse of the Caricola” gone, the Red Bulls can extend their eight-game unbeaten run going through the postseason.

“You know how much it means to (Petke), he’s that sort of character and he’s been around the place,” Lloyd Sam said. “He always talks about how long he’s been here and he hadn’t won anything. (It’s) his first year coaching, he’s won the Supporters Shield, let’s go on and win the (MLS) Cup.”


  1. That game was awesome! Was probably Henry’s best game as a RB. He was all over the place & the goal he scored was awesome….

    I say we start a petition that Petke dyes his hair blond again if we win the MLS Cup!

  2. Too funny! Everyone in my son’s school is all obsessed with making those rubber-band bracelets. I can’t wait to show him this picture when he gets home. 🙂 Petke is a good father, too, for wearing his on the job.

    • I was going to post that. I guess it shouldn’t be a shock, considering it it mostly covered. I live in Atlanta, and love soccer, but that’s a non-starter.

      • Me too. I apologize for any pro-Arthur Blank statements I may have posted in the past. This is a real sign that he is clueless. There are plenty of ways to design cool looking stadiums that will allow a grass field.

    • Worst soccer news of the week. MLS needs less plastic, not more. There may be a case for “grandfathering” the existing artificial turf fields, but to consider allowing a new franchise whose stadium hasn’t even been finished yet to use it is a giant step backwards. Garber needs to pay less attention to expansion fees and more attention to the literal foundation of the league.

    • “We did everything we could to solve for a grass field,” McKay said. “But this will be a true multi-purpose building, and it’s going to be used a lot. That change-over presents a lot of problems for grass.”

      If Atlanta gets a Major League Soccer team for the stadium, it would play on artificial turf, McKay said. But a temporary grass field occasionally could be installed for events such as international soccer games that require it, McKay said.

    • I will still go see our club play bouncy ball on the hard plastic pitch, but this is just being thrown together for the MLS TV contract. My expectations for the club and for Blabk as an MLS owner have basically been trashed.

  3. Pretty good for Plan B, or C, or however this started. But both he and the broader organization need a Cup for this to stick.

      • MLS isn’t a single table league like in Europe where teams play everyone home and away. If it were the case and MLS didn’t play through international breaks I’d agree with you. However the way it is now, a team in the weaker conference is able to gain more points in the overall table by playing weaker teams more often. I’m not saying this is the case but it stands to be and is why there is a playoff system.

      • Larry, many other leagues in the rest of the Western Hemisphere have playoffs, starting with Mexico. Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, has playoffs too. Others have a mini-playoff between the winners of the Apertura and Clausura.

        As for Asia, Australia and Korea Republic both have playoffs. In Europe, Bulgaria uses playoffs.

        Try again.

      • Bulgaria does not use playoffs. Neither does S. Korea, Chile, or Columbia, or Ecuador.

        so lets see, you argument is that since Mexico and Central America uses playoffs then we should also.

        Pretty bad argument.

  4. ESC (now one of several supporter’s groups in the South Ward) was down to about 20 people during the late 2009 season, so it might be more accurate to say where “the most fervent of Red Bulls supporters stand and cheer when the team isn’t suffering at the bottom of the table.”

  5. I am so fired up! I wanted Champions League bad. To see my Red Bulls playing in Mexico and Costa next year! Now I want it all. The Cup. I live in Santa Barbara, CA now but if we host MLS Cup in December, I’m flying home to Jersey!!!


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