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Petke sees MLS clubs making progress despite recent CCL struggles

Mike Petke

Photo by Howard C. Smith/


The hot topic surrounding MLS for much of the past week was how its clubs were struggling in the CONCACAF Champions League, and New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke had his turn to touch on the subject on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters via his weekly teleconference call, Petke stated that he has been impressed by MLS clubs’ performances in the CONCACAF tournament in recent years. Petke acknowledged that MLS teams (which are subject to a cap and other unique league guidelines) still have some work to do to before one of them finally wins the competition, but also said that they have shown progress despite the fact that the last three MLS sides in the current competition were eliminated in the quarterfinals last week.

“I think that MLS is getting there,” said Petke, who will guide his Red Bulls into the CONCACAF Champions League this fall. “In the recent couple years with (Real) Salt Lake in the Champions League, they showed they could’ve almost won it, LA (Galaxy) has done well, and I think that we’re getting there. We’re an 18-year-old league with different restraints and different rules and regulations than a league like Mexico.

“I think that we’re getting there and I’m very impressed with every time I watch these MLS teams go into these tough environments and play. It doesn’t always work out, sometimes it does. I’m impressed with how MLS teams have done for the most part. It’s just to continue to move forward really and prepare for these big games internationally.”

Asked about what MLS teams could do to further improve in the regional tournament and at long last move on to the FIFA Club World Cup, Petke did not have a direct response. The second-year manager reiterated, however, that he had been encouraged by some of what he had seen last week.

“I watched the entire San Jose game against Toluca and I was very impressed with San Jose on the road,” said Petke. “They were good defensively. Of course, they gave up a lot of crosses, but that’s okay because they were confident in their ability to defend it and going forward they were very dangerous.

“I think it was a bit unfortunate in the penalty shootout. It’s almost like a coin flip.”


What do you think of Petke’s comments? Agree that MLS clubs are making progress? How do you see the Red Bulls doing in the competition in the fall?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Petke’s comments here sure seem the standard corporate MLS message. His lack of a direct message on the record is most telling. It’s clear to all that MLS cannot and will not challenge the Mexican teams consistently until the cap purse strings are open or eliminated alltogether. Whenever that day is, that’s when we’ll stop getting lucky in the competition & not mostly get overrun. Would expect every coach to agree offline but give the standard BS online. Agrer that you need to go outside the league for anything different.

    • I guess going to the 6th or 7th player in the PK shootout isn’t challenging ?

      Either that or Aguinaga just likes to whine his agenda at us.

      I will go with the second, as the first makes no sense at all, especially since it was a non-playoff team against the 2nd team in Liga MX.

      ps…oh yup there is it salary cap, whine, whine.

  2. Hey Ives, I’d love to hear some more from coaches/managers on the SBI show as a guest. I know it’s harder now that the season has begun. But I really liked hearing Eric Wynalda’s pov and thoughts on the sport. Maybe Jason Kreis if he’s available? I just like picking their brains and getting their opinions.

    • Ex MLS coaches would be particularly great as they might be more open. Wynalda was… something else entirely. That was probably the best show ever. Speaking of which, Ives needs to have Merrit Paulson on.

      • +1, Ives keeps mentioning the formier MLS coaches (Zembrano, Hamlet, etc) that are being blocked by the retiring players-first time coaches (Petke, Pablo, Neilsen, Olsen, Berhalter, etc)… Should be more available and probably plenty to say about this generation of coaches taking over the league…

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