SANDY, Utah (Wednesday, March 29, 2017) – Real Salt Lake have promoted Mike Petke to the club’s head coaching role, RSL Owner Dell Loy Hansen announced today at Rio Tinto Stadium’s Interform Club. Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed.
While Petke will accompany Real Salt Lake (0-2-2, 2 points, t-9 West) to Saturday’s contest at expansion side Minnesota United FC, his official RSL head coaching debut will occur next Saturday, April 8 at Rio Tinto Stadium against Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7:30p MT kickoff). Interim head coach Daryl Shore continues to handle this week’s preparations as well as Saturday’s game management at Minnesota (6:00 p.m. MT kickoff on KMYU and ESPN700).
“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 Hansen, who broke ground 10 months ago on the club’s $60 million Herriman training facility, which will open this September and house both the MLS and USL professional teams and three academy sides. “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.”
Petke – who joined the Utah club back on December 23, 2016, as head coach of the Division II Real Monarchs – previously served as the New York Red Bulls (MLS) head coach for the 2013/14 seasons. With the Red Bulls, Petke led the original MLS side to a franchise-best two-year run in club history, amassing a 30-19-19 mark while giving the club its first-ever trophy, the 2013 MLS Supporters Shield. In 2014, the Red Bulls finished one goal shy of MLS Cup, dropping its Eastern Conference Finals series.
“First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to Mr. Hansen for his belief in my abilities,” said Petke, who earned his first three points for the club in Saturday’s 2-1 Monarchs’ road victory at Portland. “My family (wife, Kim; sons Dylan, 12, and Mason, 9) 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.”
“I arrived in December thinking this was the right fit and the right opportunity; the vision and blueprint provided by Mr. Hansen permeates from the first team to the Monarchs and through to our academy and our facilities that open this Fall,” continued Petke, who has had extensive involvement in youth development over the last two years prior to his Monarchs appointment. “There is so much excitement and momentum surrounding our club, starting with the infrastructure and direction provided by (GM) Craig Waibel and (VP, Soccer Administration) Rob Zarkos, through to both the veteran talent and young potential in our locker room. The expertise and commitment from our technical staff, the relevance created by our business side and the passion displayed by our fans provides an outstanding foundation which makes me proud to accept this responsibility and lead RSL to new heights.”
Petke, now 41, appeared as a player in 196 of his 351 career MLS games with the MetroStars/Red Bulls (also playing with D.C. United and Colorado Rapids), after growing up on Long Island. In 2004/05 with D.C. United, Petke was a teammate of current RSL GK Nick Rimando, the duo winning MLS Cup in 2004. From 2005 to 2007 with the Colorado Rapids, Petke was teammates with another pair of current RSL players, Captain Kyle Beckerman and DF Chris Wingert. Petke attended St. John’s The Baptist High School in West Islip, New York (also the high school home of Wingert) prior to a college career at Southern Connecticut.
Petke will retain all of the club’s assistant coaches, including Daryl Shore – who served as interim head coach and earned credit for Saturday’s 0-0 draw at New York against the Red Bulls, RSL’s first road clean sheet in nearly two seasons – as well as Tyrone Marshall, and Freddy Juarez, video analyst Ted Eck and strength coaches Henry Ruggiero and Matt Howley.
"Mike won a Supporters Shield, he’s managed high-profile players, he enjoyed a great playing career,” said Waibel, noting the position’s unique balance of winning now and development for the future, amidst an ever-changing league. “There’s almost nothing he hasn’t seen in the sport in this country, and integrating someone with his experience, intelligence and teaching ability into our organization will pay dividends up and down our pyramid, from the academy teams to the Monarchs to the first team.”
Petke – now the fourth head coach in Real Salt Lake’s 13-year Major League Soccer history, following John Ellinger (72 games from 2005-07), Jason Kreis (266 games from 2007-13) and Jeff Cassar (121 games from 2014-17), as well as Daryl Shore (2 games as interim this season) – replaces long-time RSL employee Cassar, who was dismissed from the club’s head coaching role on March 20, following a 38-37-30 run in MLS, Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League play. Under Cassar, RSL advanced to the MLS Cup Playoffs in two of his three seasons in charge, eliminated by the LA Galaxy in both 2014 and 2016.
“It is important at this time to recognize the steadying hand of valued coach Daryl Shore,” said Waibel of the veteran MLS assistant, who served as RSL’s interim head coach in last Saturday’s 0-0 draw at New York against the Red Bulls, RSL’s first road clean sheet in nearly two seasons – and will serve as the head coach of record for this week’s trip to Minnesota. “The club appreciates the collaborative spirit and selfless stewardship and guidance he has provided our locker room during this time of transition, effectively defusing a potentially volatile time and keeping the first team focused.”
RSL continues its 13th MLS campaign this weekend at Minnesota, visiting the expansion United FC at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Saturday at 6:00 p.m. MT (coverage begins at 5:00 p.m. MT on ESPN700 AM and at 5:30 p.m. MT on KMYU TV – 2.2 air / 12 satellite / 643 Comcast HD).
Petke and RSL return to Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, April 8 against Vancouver Whitecaps, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. MT. Season Tickets for Real Salt Lake's 2017 campaign at Rio Tinto Stadium are now on sale; please visit www.RSL.com/tickets/royalty or call 844.Real.Tix for more information. At this juncture, ONLY current RSL “Royalty” season ticket members in good standing are eligible to purchase tickets to world power Manchester United’s July 17 visit to face RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The home portion of the 2017 Real Monarchs / USL season kicks off this weekend at 4:00 p.m. MT against Phoenix Rising FC. Season Tickets for the Real Monarchs third season in 2017 are now on sale; please call 844.Real.Tix or visit www.RSL.com/Monarchs for more information.
Coming in late Summer, 2017, Real Salt Lake's regional training center opens in Herriman, Utah, approximately 20 minutes southwest of Rio Tinto Stadium. The $60 million facility will serve as the daily training home beginning in 2018 for both of the club's professional teams – RSL (MLS) and Real Monarchs (USL) – while centralizing the club's U-18, U-16 and future U-14 development academy youth selections. The Herriman facility will provide adjacencies for an on-site charter school opening in Fall, 2018, with STEM disciplines (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) for nearly 300 boys and girls.
Last November in North Logan, Utah, RSL Owner Dell Loy Hansen broke ground on the first of a half-dozen regional training centers across Utah and Arizona to be built in the next 2-3 years. Each $5 million RTC houses a classroom, as well as an indoor and outdoor field, dedicated to fulfilling a curriculum dedicated to the club's vision and mission for youth soccer training and education, and the continued development of both recreational and competitive pre-Academy (ages 7-12) initiatives across Utah and Arizona.