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January 24, 2013
Red Bulls name Petke head coach

Finally, after more than two months of searching and 37 days prior to the start of the Major League Soccer season, the Red Bulls have a coach.

Assistant coach Mike Petke, who had taken over the interim role, was named permanent head coach of the team on Thursday.

Petke, who is one of the club’s most popular all-time players and its leader in games played, hails from Bohemia, N.Y. on Long Island.

“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."

Needless to say, Petke was excited about the job.

“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.”

The Red Bulls, who are in Bradenton, FL for preseason camp, will host a media conference call later Thursday.

Petke, 36, just finished his second season as an assistant coach on New York’s staff after an illustrious playing career. He joined the coaching ranks in 2011 following a 13-year career that included two playing stints with the club from 1998-2002 and 2008-10. The Bohemia, NY native holds the current club record for games played, with 169 (196 in all competitions), games started (158 regular season) and minutes played (14,060 regular season).

Drafted by New York in 1998 with the 8th overall pick in the MLS Draft, Petke made his debut on April 17, 1998 against the Chicago Fire. He helped the team to its first Eastern Division title in 2000 and was thrice named an MLS All-Star. Petke was traded to D.C. United before the 2003 season and won his only MLS Cup in 2004 with United. He was then traded to Colorado during their 2005 campaign, helping the Rapids to reach the Western Conference Finals.

The Red Bulls signed Petke again at the end of 2008 and he played 35 more matches for the team until retiring following the 2010 season. He was named the club’s 2009 Defender of the Year and helped New York to its second Eastern Conference regular season title in his final season. Petke finished his career with 307 appearances in league play (351 in all competitions), in which he scored 13 goals and added four assists. He is one of 16 MLS players who has appeared in 300 or more career regular season matches. Petke also appeared in nine playoff matches and 13 U.S. Open Cup matches as a member of the New York franchise and earned two caps for the United States.

Prior to his professional career, Petke spent four years at Southern Connecticut State University, leading the team to the NCAA Division II National title in 1995.
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