Top Stories

Curtis says firing Petke from Red Bulls was his decision

Mike Petke New York Red Bulls 33

Photo by Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports


If Mike Petke committed any infraction that led to his firing, it was simply that he was not Jesse Marsch.

New York Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis, who joined the club last month, dismissed Petke on Tuesday in a shocking move that reverberated across MLS. Petke had led his beloved team to a Supporters’ Shield in 2013 and a deep playoff run a year later, but that was not enough to keep him from being replaced by Marsch on Wednesday.

It turns out that Curtis wanted a coach more in line with his vision for New York’s future, and Marsch fit the bill more than Petke.

“At the end of the day, it was my decision. I own it, and it was very difficult,” Curtis said during a 30-minute conference call. “But this decision wasn’t about getting rid of Mike. It was more about bringing in Jesse Marsch. We’re very excited to have Jesse and I’m looking forward to him sharing his ideas, not just at the first-team level but at all levels of our organization, from our youth development platform all the way to the first team.

“I’ve mentioned this before: I’ve built a plan,” he later added. “I have a vision and a plan and core values and a style of play of what I want to occur when I’m at a club. When I joined the New York Red Bulls, I joined the New York Red Bulls with a very sophisticated plan in terms of where we need to be over the next 12 months, over the next 36 months and over the next five years. Jesse fits into that plan.”

Curtis, who has never previously worked for a club, was eventually asked if Petke’s firing was a decision made by the Red Bulls’ ownership group in Austria. Curtis avoided answering the crux of the question, only repeating that he had the final say in deciding Petke’s future on the cusp of the annual MLS Combine.

“The decision to replace Mike is not a reflection of whether or not we’re embracing tradition,” said Curtis. “Mike was a big part of the club and we believe he’ll be a big part of the club moving forward. At the end of the day, I felt the decision needed to be made in replacing the head coach and I made it.

“Jesse is going to be great for this club. He fits into our vision great, so we’re looking forward to him being a part of this.”

In the 41-year-old Marsch, the Red Bulls are getting someone who is different than Petke in that he has coached at several levels in the United States. He was the head coach of the Montreal Impact in 2012 and an assistant for the U.S. Men’s National Team prior to that.

Marsch, who most recently served as an analyst during the MLS Cup playoffs, acknowledged during the conference call that he and Curtis have “symmetry” in terms of their vision and work ethic. The former MLS midfielder also talked about helping the Red Bulls evolve as a club, altering their identity on the field, and introducing more youth into the fold.

“To get briefly and quickly into the playing style, this is an energy drink,” said Marsch. “From the beginning it’s been clear that Red Bull – as much as there has been some talented teams there, I think there’s been success – I think they want to honor playing a more dynamic and uptempo game and incorporating more young players and now having a new direction.

“That fit well with who I am as a coach and how I think about things. I expect our team to evolve, but I also am not here to make sweeping changes. I know there’s already a good base of talent here, and now it’s just our job to add to it and instill a really strong work ethic and help this thing evolve.”

Marsch added that negotiations to sign as head coach began two weeks ago and that he is in talks to bring a technical staff. Curtis confirmed on the call that assistant coach Robin Fraser is on his way out, as had been reported in recent days.

Curtis also praised Marsch’s fondness for “performance and analytics”, which the two men see as a key part of the club’s future. They both sounded confident that they can win over New York’s irate fans, whose expectations will be extremely high after seeing the unceremonious dumping of their beloved head coach.

If Curtis and Marsch fail in 2015, the fanbase will let them know it. They don’t foresee that happening, however.

“(Marsch) embraces those areas that are consistent with where I see the club moving and the direction of the club,” said Curtis. “His approach and ideas as it pertains to youth development as well as the first team and the interplay between those two areas, I believe is very innovative, and it fits very well into where this club is moving in not only over the next 12 months, but really in the long term.”

“A value in Jesse is that he’s actually had a chance to actually step away from the game, and I think a lot of times when you step away from the game, it gives you a perspective that is different, that is new, and very innovative,” he added. “Particularly, through my conversations with Jesse, it’s aligned with where we are moving as a club and I felt that was the right decision to make.”


  1. Ali Curtis is a douchebag who won’t last long at this organization. He clearly has no idea what he’s doing. Unfortunately, his very first act is tell a whole lot of fans goodbye. A final goodbye for me. No point in dealing with this BS anymore when there are options for NY soccer fans. I was solidly behind Petke. I can’t get behind Marsch or Curtis. I CAN however get behind Kreis, and that’s just what I’m going to do.

  2. The red bulls are not selling! The red bulls are not tightening the purse strings. The red bulls Have simply given up on running the team their way when there is a league hell bent on slamming them! Everyone needs to realize that the single entity system is the problem! The red bulls hired mls goons to run the team with hopes of having an insiders edge. Unfortunately, mls goons will do with red bulls what mls goons do with the league. Buy cheap players and provide a sub par product! People who boycott red bulls should real boycott mls and support nasl instead. I don’t know why people question red bulls and not mls when red bulls have a track record of success in sports around the world.

  3. this is a crazy move by Curtis, get rid of him!
    Petke was all we had after 20 yrs and the soul of the franchise, disgraceful! Good luck getting us fans to follow the team and get to RB Arena, this is punching us long suffering fans in the gut!

  4. straight up crazy town
    Petke was not the best but was the most sucessful. Marsch is not a bad choice and could be good but is not worth getting rid of Petke over.

  5. “To get briefly and quickly into the playing style, this is an energy drink,” said Marsch.
    ROTFL This is the quote of the decade right here! Yes, Jesse, you DO work for the New York Energy Drinks! They know how to market caffeine, they can build cool stadiums, but they’re also really great at bungling the soccer side of things!

  6. I am not a Red Bulls fan nor a New Yorker, but I find the canonization of Petke in these comments a bit much. He won a supporters shield his firsr year, but in the weaker conference and with a pretty loaded roster led by arguably the best player in league history. Good job not messing it up, but nothing amazing. In year two a similarly loaded roster struggled and nearly missed the playoffs, even with a highly motivated Henry at the helm. This was a below average coaching job. I think Jesse Marsch is a credible hire. He knows MLS, he did ok at MTL in the club’s first year and with an owner who didn’t like him. More importantly, he knows all the USMNT guys and may well be able to recruit some back (Klestjan and Jozy, for ex). I thinkits clear that RBNY is probably reducing budget, and you can be mad about that, but I also suspect that Marsch might be able to do more with less than Petke can. I hope the RB fans can try this out for one season before jumping ship. Curtis may suck but he may also improve things. We just don’t know yet. But to jump ship over Petke…a decent coach and guy, but no Bruce Arena…that just seems really silly. Wait and see if they make signings and what they do with the signings. Or go root for the Lampards and enjoy those Yankee stadium sightlines for the foreseeable future….

  7. I don’t mind having Petke replaced, but replacing him with Marsch is just daft. This truly is a sign that Red Bull are giving up.

  8. Curtis sounds like a complete egotistical tool. It just shows how bad that organization is letting a freaking lightweight like that come in and sucker punch Petke. A guy who truly cared about that team with body and soul. And then to fall all over crowing about Marsch’s vision….clueless f**k.

    I feel for all RB fans…

  9. MLS is on the brink, The Red Bulls are looking to bail out. The NYCFC Lampard fiasco, Chivas folding and Orlando having a dificult time getting off the ground. It is very shaky times for MLS, very shaky indeed.

  10. This whole debacle I am going to place the blame on the just re-hired Marc De Grandpre as the Red Bulls Director of commercial operations and back in 2006 – 2008 was the Red Bulls chief executive. Back in 2006 – 2008 De Grandpre did a horrendous job especially with the treatment of the Red Bull fans. He hired Curtis so by extension he is the one behind this firing, the insulting 1year contract offer to assistant coach Robin Fraser, the lack of movement in improving the squad, going in the direction of playing homegrown players and cast offs from other teams. Given that Curtis was hired on December 23rd and his admitting that talks with Marsch started two weeks ago means only that Petke was fired the moment Curtis was hired. According to Curtis
    “When I joined the New York Red Bulls, I joined the New York Red Bulls with a very sophisticated plan in terms of where we need to be over the next 12 months, over the next 36 months and over the next five years. Jesse fits into that plan.”
    Curtis has poor communication skills on explaining his decision, and has shown nothing but condescension to the Red Bull fans that his so called sophisticated plan is too sophisticated for the Red Bull faithful to grasp. On the bright side Curtis is only on a one year deal so all this talk about his plan extending 36 months and 5 years. Yeah right! Curtis will be gone before the year is up.
    Signed a newly minted ex-red Bull fan.

  11. Thanks for your support Mike and Tom G and others.

    I guess the saddest thing is the DISHONESTY coming out of RB HQ. Clearly suddenly they are on a shoe string budget ( Curtis was the 3rd guy) in line for this job. Two better experienced and qualified folks walked away? No Henry and no Cahill yet they have no $$ Something smells very fishy? Wait and watch the RB die hard players move on shortly and we will be spun a yarn that Marsh has new fresh ideas or strategy or other BS

    Now they get Sashe as the next DP seriously? The writing is on the wall CHEAP reserves will take the field until they find a buyer. I am totally disgusted!
    Soccer Blood

  12. Never liked NYRB but if you the fans really have the balls and want the beverage people to leave and be bought out, organize and go to the front office to be heard and have all the press there, can’t think of a better way….although Mike Petke is from the house and all.. he underperformed! but that doesn’t justify what happened, and as someone commented earlier, that he felt the fans intelligence was insulted, I TOTALLY AGREE! I couldn’t believe I was reading those comments about his vision…who is this guy? NYRB what a Joke!!

  13. THIS IS PURE SH.T!! I’m so sorry I renewed my season tickets…I want a refund!

    Mike you are a class act. Good luck and best wishes.

  14. I have it on authority that Ali Curtis and new coach Jesse Marsch are engaged in a homosexual love affair. Frankly, I find it appalling that these things are tolerated in present-day society, although my views are evolving.

  15. Now that Red Bull will have a team in the Bundesliga they are ready to rid themselves of their NY franchise and focus on their German team. We’re in the steps of Red Bull leaving MLS. I agree with another poster who said that this a slow move to having RBNY be league run within the next two years.

  16. I’ve never bought ticket based on a coach…Petke did a poor job when it mattered most and failed to know the rules of the playoffs with BWP sitting out the most important game of the season….would Arean, Sigi or Bob Bradley make this error? The team underperformed under Petke…luv him as a player, but as a coach passion in football is not enough. His tactics did not win the supporters shield…his motivation and passion did. Petke also warned fans and team members alike that big changes were coming even if NYRB did well in playoffs (this was another error stating this publicly – yes he was candid, but telling your team changes are coming no matter the result is ill advised….too bad for him. Hopefully the club or MLS utilize Petke in the near future. He deserves it – a good guy and yes, our guy…this is what disappoints.

    • I am missing something on the whole “Blame Petke for not knowing the rules thing,” where it was BWP who pulled a clown move that you don’t see kids on U-14 teams doing. Don’t the players take on some responsibility for knowing the LOTG? Reminds me of Roy Miller’s intentional encroachment on a PK because he thought the taker would get a second shot. If I were a coach, I would require every single one of my players to get a referee’s license.

  17. A coach with two successful years at that very team would seem to be more likely to perform any years’ worth of plan than a coach who had one losing season and didn’t make the playoffs. So the real issue is more team sale, personalities, that he never won the big one, that Curtis wants to make his imprint, anything but the superficial reasoning presented. Something unsaid.

    Youth team ideas are a red herring, how much do you think the head senior coach works on the system or with the kids. The whole point to the reserve/loan ideas are he doesn’t. He works with the starters and the first team. He might eyeball the kids come signing time. He might give broad brush strokes to the youth concepts he wants implemented. But he’s not coaching the kids on top of everything else. He’s there to man manage the senior side. Suggesting anything else is, again, how gullible do you think we are.

    The analytics stuff sounds nice but Jordan espoused the same stuff when hired for Houston and then traded for Willis and his awful GAA at GK.

    It just sounds like Curtis is crossways with Petke and because Petke never quite won the big one he was made vulnerable. Kind of like NYRB is itself now vulnerable to NYCFC having not won the title and maybe not locked in fans.

    • You’re right, all around. Curtis sounds like a real ass. Knowing nothing about him, we should slightly suspend our disbelief, and he should be given time, just like anyone, but objectively his words ring of someone with a big ego. He came out and said he is the boss, and that his new coach fits into his “vision.” Seriously, who, with no experience, says that? Analytics, as you say, sound great and are part of the game today – everyone’s read soccernomics by now – but they are fools if they think that a “fondness for” statistics is the same as leading a team of midlevel talent onto the field and winning..

      And I’m not sure youth development is relevant yet in the US, with regards to the first team, without having a place to go play and increase their worth and value. After all, NY was never able to sign the players to their roster, there weren’t enough spots, and academy players aren’t talented enough to jump straight into the first team.

  18. Gosh, I kinda liked Ali Curtis as a player, but he seems to have contracted a bad case of “general-manageritis” and is talking complete nonsense. Admittedly NYRB are the poster child for allegedly sophisticated soccer folks screwing up a team over and over again, but what more did Petke have to do? With Henry on the roster and dragging down huge bucks (at the expense of a balanced team) any coach would have struggled, but Mike really did more than okay. That’s professional soccer for ya!

    • Don’t sell Curtis short on what he can accomplish.

      Besides his illustrious career with the MLS, where he helped keep salaries down for players as he helped lead the negotiations (on behalf of the owners) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, His CV promoted his previous time as an Analyst for Chase Morgan. CM, a company responsible, along with other banks who wrote and misrepresented thousands of bad mortgages and then totally misread and mislead thousand of big investors on the economy.And more likely, according to the paperwork submitted to the courts and Federal agencies responsible for banking over site, CM, BofA,GS (Goldman-Sachs) and others, actually contributed to, through its greed and negligence, the mortgage meltdown of 2008 that plunged the country into “the Great Recession” His tenure there coincided with the worst of its malfeasance.

      Although, I am sure that Curtis had nothing directly to do with the crisis, his employment as an analyst at CM during it time when it contributed to the worst of Wall Street Greed, has to count for something.

      I think Curtis has moved beyond being a footballer and morphed into a “suit” whose corporate background and callous dismissal of a fan favorite and possibly the best coach the NYRB have had in more than a few years, may have endured him to the corporation on which he serves. However, through his “vision”, he has totally let down the players, the fans, both locally and nationally, as he dismisses the great strides the team has accomplished by Petke, et. al, with a large dose of hubris.

  19. These quotes are an absolute embarrassment. First, this imbecile calls his own plan “very sophisticated?” And he basically says Mike was fine but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get Jesse Marsch in here. Marsch was his buddy from the league office.

    And I don’t care who the coach is. Who’s going to replace Henry and Olave? What’s happening with Cahill.

    These comments are an insult to the intelligence of Red Bulls fans. This is an energy drink so we need young players? In other words you need cheap players. This team is going to let its marketing department determine the playing style? How about this is a football club so we need good players? That makes a whole lot more sense.

    • “First, this imbecile calls his own plan “very sophisticated?”……thank you! This quote gives us a tremendous amount of insight into this guys mind. Let me guess,…Curtis and Marsh were sitting around the league office saying,…”yeah,…I went to Duke, and you went to Princeton,…and this guy Petke went to Southern Connecticut State,….hee, hee, hee! We’re more sophisticated than him! Gosh!”

  20. Something doesn’t click here at all.

    They went from a European guy with a long track record and great contacts in the front office to a league employee who has never held a job in a front office.

    And how long is Curtis’ contract?

    This is so bizarre – his idea of how they should play? This makes no sense.

  21. So it sounds like the team didn’t display the style befitting a two-bit energy drink…

    Someone in the marketing department canned Mike Petke. Great.


    I am sure I speak for thousands of old Metro Stars fans and then Red Bull Fans

    Mike you gave us HEART. You were never afraid of anyone or anything. You left everything out on the field as a player as as a coach .You stood up for the Red Bulls,

    You were always HONEST and Straight forward with us. We learned very quickly how to respect you, We believe in you, and you embraced the fans even making tough decisions when needed such as benching the great Henry when it needed to be done. You earned our respect and now this is a sad day for all RB fans. I sincerely hope Mike you find a new home quickly and prove to those idiots like Ali what a real man you are! Thank You Mike you have our respect forever! Now go find a real team that will respect and reward your hard work.

    To those IDIOTS like Ali

    Boy in less than 60 days you single handedly ruined what could have been a great organization

    You have 0 experience, 0 heart, and 0 credibility, but I get it you took a huge pay cut to sneak into this job as nobody else wanted you.

    To the COSMOS

    Hey Saverese you were an ex Metro Star, one of the greatest I might add, You always came on as a super sub to save the day. Maybe you can repeat that feat now..? Maybe you feel our pain and can rescue us with a buy in. After all we have one of the best stadiums in the land and oh yeah it is gonna be very very empty with Ali and his half baked ideologies, and the likes of Marsh in charge.

    TO NYFC alt ho I hate everything about you as an ex RB fan ( now) I must congratulate you for your victory as you watch in glee as the Red Bulls shoot themselves in the foot and self destruct,before your season even starts.. and you thought you were in a Lampard mess? Ha I think we out did you there!

    I fully expect the few good players from RB like Robles, BWP, Dax and Sam to jump ship along with Henry and Cahill

    To our fans

    Sad day indeed as Red Bulls out did themselves and are now more of a mess than even the NY KNICKS?

    • You sir deserve a medal, spot on all the way! I particularly find your Cosmos comment interesting as I was just saying the same thing to a friend today

    • +1000. Petke and McCarty were the only reasons I still had any hope for this team. Petke was a class act to the end. He’s done some great things in only two years and was learning bY leaps and bounds. THIS is Curtis’ first move? This schmuck with zero experience, zero credentials, also showing he has zero intelligence and zero loyalty. His FIRST move is to fire a beloved, successful, charismatic manager with the deepest of ties to the community and the team??!! Fu€&$k you Ali Curtis and F$$@k you Red Bulls. I’m not going to any more matches until these A-holes sell the team.

  23. What vision? So far they let a perfect replacement to Henry slip through their fingers in Steven Gerrard. What are the Red Bulls doing?! I mean Gerrard and Houllier have history from LFC, if anyone should have been able to sign him it should have been the Red Bulls. This team is in a shambles; the S.I. story from last year is beginning to sound truer everyday; Red Bulls are conserving their money and will most likely sell the franchise in the next year; if they weren’t why would they bring on a 3 year veteran of the MLS to be the Sporting Director?

    • 2014 Gerrard is nowhere near Henry’s level. He’s declining quite a bit in the past year or so. That doesn’t excuse the lack of action from this team so far this offseason.

      • 1. Gerrard and Henry are totally different players, but Gerrard is clearly a good replacement for Henry. Gerrard is a quality top level player, there is no argument there. If you need further proof, look at the brace he scored against Wimbeldon.
        2. If Henry would have stuck around La Ligiga or the Premiership longer than he did, he too would have looked in the decline.
        3. Gerrard is a natural leader who could have done wonders in New York.

      • It was Gerrard himself who said the Galaxy actively recruited him. As far back as August when LD announced his retirement, the Galaxy started identifying possible replacements and when it became known to the Galaxy that Gerrard had not been offered a new contract, the Galaxy started getting their ducks inn order, and were the first to table a bona fide offer to Gerrard. It was the Galaxy, who convinced Gerrard that the LA Galaxy were the team for him.

        The fact that Gerard Hollier, with all his contacts in Europe and especially in Liverpool, did not actively recruit Gerrard, and although he was hamstrung by Henry’s lack of announcing hi retirement until the end of the season, he totally missed the opportunity, shows the difference between the Galaxy and the Red Bulls.

        While the Galaxy have been proactive in their acquisition of players like Beckham and Keane, the ability to attract top-flite players are due to the ability of the Galaxy to sell themselves, and one of them being tagged as the “class of the MLS” does not hurt.

        The class of the Galaxy does not just occur on the field with medal,s trophy’s and championships, but in the management that extend to a hands on approach from the owner on down.

        Something the NYRB have yet to learn.

  24. “We’re very excited to have Jesse “…. WHO IS EXCITED???? You dumb idiot prick who should be working register in Mcdonalds

  25. I wish nothing less than the worst wrath of God and Satan on Red Bull GmbH. Burn, mothers. Every action I do with this team will be to belittle your silly little brand.

  26. Best part of Curtis statement is that he has a 36 month & 5 year plan….. I’m sure Mike Petke had those as well, but never given the chance. In keeping w/ true MetroBull tradition that will include 3-5 coaches over that time span & at least 30-50 starters. No chance Curtis &/or Marsch will still be with the club in 3-5 years

    • I understand this, but as a fan of the Metrostars, and then begrudgingly of the Red Bulls, I do not have to see “eye to eye” with these decisions. I will not be a fan of this club until Curtis is fired. I will be a fan of where ever Mike Petke lands next (assuming it is coaching.)

      I have nothing against Marsh, but I will spit anytime I hear Curtis’ name mentioned.

  27. I’m sure it was his decision. Could it have been personal??? I only mention that because Curtis and Petke were teammates briefly in 2003 at DCU.


Leave a Comment