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Mike Petke named Real Salt Lake head coach

Just a little over a week after the dismissal of Jeff Cassar, Real Salt Lake has found its new head coach.

The team announced Wednesday that it has promoted Mike Petke, formerly head coach of the team’s USL affiliate Real Monarchs, into their vacant head coaching position. Petke has former head coaching experience with the New York Red Bulls, where he held the role for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, winning the team’s first ever trophy by capturing the 2013 Supporters’ Shield. After falling in the Eastern Conference finals in 2014, Petke was dismissed by the Red Bulls and took over the Real Monarchs position in December 2016.

“Mike’s leadership capabilities, his track record, work ethic and fiery personality are anticipated to confidently lead Real Salt Lake into a new era,” said team owner Dell Loy Hansen. “Mike quickly integrated himself into our club, and has embraced both the pressure of our short-term expectations and all the tenets and principles guiding our long-term intentions.”

“First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to Mr. Hansen for his belief in my abilities,” said Petke. “My family has been excited about our return to the Rocky Mountains since Christmas; we have always been amazed by the fantastic culture for soccer here in Utah, and I am honored to be charged with delivering pride and excellence to the passionate RSL fan base.”

After a playoff appearance in 2016, Real Salt Lake had gotten off to a slow start in Jeff Cassar’s fourth year in charge, and Petke takes over a team still seeking its first win on the year. After a season opening draw against Toronto FC, two losses to the Chicago Fire and LA Galaxy caused the team to move on from Cassar. The team then drew its fourth game against the Red Bulls under interim coach Daryl Shore.

Petke will retain the entirety of the team’s staff of assistant coaches, including Shore, as he seeks to earn the team’s first victory of 2017. Shore will coach this weekend’s match for RSL against Minnesota United, while Petke will make his debut at home the following weekend on April 8 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.


  1. I’m confused. In his first year with NYCRB, Petke won the Supporters Shield and in his second he got to the conference finals. And yet some say he isn’t a good coach? By that metric, there are very few good coaches in MLS, or anywhere else for that matter.

    • Gary,

      Agreed. It is laughable. To all of Petke’s critics I would say this 1) look at his record; 2) trying coaching a team with Thierry Henry on the field and in the dressing room,….you can ask Jason Kreis how coaching aging stars works.

      Lastly,…there is this perception that Petke’s successor is some sort of tactical genius. Just the opposite. Marsh has one mode –high pressure. He is a soccer suedo-intellect. How many points did Red Bull squander when they had a lead but tactical did not know how to manage the game? Too many.

      • i think that’s the point – thierry henry ran the team, petke was just the one wearing the sweaters on the sideline

      • Don’t kid yourself,…with the exception of Bruce Arena, Thierry Henry was going to be the biggest figure in the dressing room. Petke made it work. Kudos to him. Let’s see how it works out in RSL.

    • its O.K to be confused. There is plenty out there to learn by everyone, Coaches with winning records get fired for a reason, which sometimes is not obvious unless you peek under the newsprint.

      • And sometimes coaches get fired for no good reason. Having been a sports fan for many years I have seen time and again where a coach will be doing well, but not winning the championship. Then he gets fired to bring on the coach to take the team to the championship and that team never performs as well as they did under the fired coach. I can give you lots of examples.

  2. He is not a really good coach , but he is likeable , and everyone can learn, and improve ,so there is some upside. He is certainly better than Tony Meola, who probably was a contender. Take it from a NYC fan.

  3. Nice guy but more intuitive than thoughtful. Probably will disappoint by 2018. Was let go because he is not very strong in the tactical and planning area but is a players coach, so the team will perform for him for a while. He would be smart to hire a sidekick who can cover his weaknesses.


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