Red Bulls’ Petke returns as coach to franchise he loves

Mike Petke still shows his emotions once in awhile, just on the sideline now. Credit: Getty Images
Mike Petke still shows his emotions once in awhile, just on the sideline now.
Credit: Getty Images

It doesn’t seem long ago that a 22-year-old Mike Petke was taking the field at Giants Stadium, wearing the red and black of the MetroStars.

He made his names as a physical defender and became a fan favorite for his dyed-blonde hair. He had phases during his 13-year MLS career where he had a nose ring, earrings, multiple hair styles (and colors) to go along with other colorful fashion statements.

But on Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena, Petke will be on the sidelines with jet-black hair and a suit for what will be his first home game as New York’s head coach. He’s 37 years old now and just two games into his MLS coaching career (the Red Bulls have started the season with a tie and a loss on the road) and there’s plenty to learn for the boy from Bohemia, N.Y.

A first-round draft pick of the MetroStars in 1998, Petke’s career has come full circle and a fan base that loved his full-throttle style of play will surely show its appreciation before the game.

“At the end of the day, there’s no arrogance. People know I’m not arrogant or cocky so when I say this, it is meant in a good way,” Petke told Metro. “But this game alone, the first game, I know there’s going to be a lot of friends and family there and I have a great relationship with the supporters. I don’t want it to be about me. I know that some part of it will about me. I understand that, I’m not stupid. I respect and appreciate that.”

I want to show appreciation and love to the supporters and everything but I also want to be focused. It’s tough. But the feeling of going out to be the head coach for my first home game at Red Bull Arena against D.C. United keeps becoming storyline after storyline for me. It’s exciting.”

Eight years of his MLS career were spent in New York, first with the MetroStars and then again in 2008 following their rebranding as the Red Bulls. He is the club’s all-time leader in appearances and was on the roster in 2000 and 2010 for what were arguably the franchise’s best seasons in their history. But a MLS Cup has always eluded a team as snake bitten as any in MLS and it is hoped that Petke can finally bring the Red Bulls some hardware.

Two weeks ago, on Saturday in the team hotel in Portland, Ore. prior to their season opener against the Timbers, Petke was going through the final details for the next day’s game. It was then and there that it dawned on him that he was coaching the team that meant so much to him, and had ushered him to icon status.

Petke is paramount to a legend among the hardcore fans who have supported this team though the many downs and few ups associated with following the Red Bulls. When he retired in 2010, he was given the job of Manager of Business Operations but he quickly found his way back to the field as an assistant coach.

“I took a position on steroids is what I like to call. It was three or four job descriptions rolled into one,” Petke said. “It took only a month or two to realize I wasn’t meant for an office and that I belonged on a field.”

And now after two years as an assistant coach, he has his team on his terms, just like in 1998 when he was that young, gutsy rookie on the MetroStars. Only this time, the hair is a little different.

Follow Red Bulls beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Supporters say man accused of robbery was misidentified

A Liberian immigrant couple charged with extorting money from an elderly woman in March will be in court Thursday for a bail hearing, but supporters say it's a case of…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

Local

Could this be the end of ICE holds…

Mayor Michael Nutter directed city agencies to stop cooperating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer holds via executive order today.

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.