After their playoff loss to DC United, the New York Red Bulls fired Hans Backe as their head coach and created a search for a new man to run the side. After all the rumors of Gary McAllister, Paulo Souza, and even Eric Wynalda possibly taking the helm, those hires did not happen. In the end, the club finally made a decision to go from within.
Interim Coach Mike Petke has now officially been appointed as the head coach in full of the New York Red Bulls. This news will make the supporters happy. Not because he is a former player drafted by this club, but rather that he is a local from Long Island who knows what it takes to win in the New York Tristate Area.
“Ever since I joined New York in 1998, this is the club that has always been closest to my heart,” he said. “I am thrilled to have earned this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is truly a dream come true,” Petke said. “I know there is a lot of work ahead and our challenge is not easy. However, I am excited to take hold of my new responsibility and hopeful that I can help build a hard-working team that our club’s loyal supporters can all be proud of.”
Remembering Petke’s playing career was always a special time when he came in with the blonde hair dye job and put home a few goals of his own as a center back. When MLS used a golden goal overtime period, there was a game winner he put in DC United’s net at RFK Stadium.
Or the infamous celebration after scoring against the Colorado Rapids at Giants Stadium, where he lifted his jersey to show a special message that read “Revenge Is Coming.” The reference was to the horrible incident when Mamadou Diallo stomped and kicked former keeper Mike Ammann on the ground at the former Tampa Bay Mutiny.
This man has the heart and the passion to lead this club to a potential championship if given the time to make it happen. Like Ben Olsen for DC United, Jason Kreis has for Real Salt Lake, or Jay Heaps from the New England Revolution, this is a chance for another respected former player to take his club to the top.
“Mike is very passionate about our club and has shown us that he has the leadership and organizational qualities to be our head coach,” Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said in a statement. “He is a terrific servant for this club, from being a top player to most recently heading our reserve squad. Mike has earned this opportunity and he will have the full support of our staff to help ensure the team’s success. We believe that his experience both as a player and coach in American soccer will be a significant asset as we head into the 2013 season.”
Sadly for Petke, his first attempt to run a squad was the 2011 US Open Cup Quarterfinals at the Chicago Fire when he was given a B/C side and lost four goals to nil. It wasn’t his fault because Backe didn’t care about the Open Cup then; Backe also failed to fly with the team to play this match.
But as this hire is a good one, the problems from within at Red Bull are unfortunately still there. While I appreciate Global Director of Soccer Gerard Houllier putting in a personal interest to make this club successful, he needs to allow the men who will be in charge make these decisions on acquiring players and hiring the coach staff.
But now let Petke run the show, and let’s see him try to make magic happen for the club he was drafted from, played for and now runs as Head Coach.