Who Will Lead New York Red Bulls?

By J.J. Zucal


Mike Petke serves as interim coach of the New York Red Bulls. Photo from mlssoccer.com

The New York Red Bulls traveled to Florida on Tuesday, but who will manage the Major League Soccer club this season remains a mystery.

In a media conference call, sporting director Andy Roxborough said while talks continue with candidates, the club would prefer someone with MLS experience.

“We’re talking to a number of people, a lot with really interesting backgrounds, but we’re still in discussions,” said Roxborough. “We want to make sure it’s someone who’s available and who’s appropriate.”

Mike Petke, the Red Bulls’ manager of business operations and former MLS player, is serving as the club’s interim coach in Florida in preparation for the first preseason match on Feb. 1 against the Columbus Crew in Bradenton, Fla. Having worked with the Red Bulls Academy, Petke also was an assistant to coach Hans Backe, whose contract was not extended after last season.

Petke was a veteran of more than 300 MLS matches. He opened his career in 1998, with the then-Metrostars (name was changed to Red Bulls in 2006), was traded to D.C. United in 2003, then the Colorado Rapids in 2005, and returned to the Red Bulls on waivers in 2008. He retired in 2010.

“We want to put an American core in the back of the staff,” Roxborough said about the club’s search. “Mike is a great example of that, people who know the league, who not only played in it, but have a technical perspective.”

Part of Petke’s duties was to prepare for Tuesday’s MLS Supplemental Draft, in which the Red Bulls made five selections, including the first pick overall.

After its match in Bradenton, the Red Bulls will play four preseason matches in Tucson, Ariz., before the regular-season opener March 3 at the Portland Timbers. The home opener is set for March 16 against D.C. United.


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