Strange Season Pays Off for Petke

Why the rookie head coach has his players moving in the right direction
by Daniel Feuerstein   |   Monday, December 02, 2013

John Hefti Photography - RBNY, NYRB

The 2013 season for Red Bull New York was a very strange one.

It all started in the heat of the Arizona desert. Former RBNY defender and Long Island Native Mike Petke was given an opportunity to become the head coach of the club he was drafted by in New York. It’s a team he has dedicated his heart and passion towards.

But while a Supporters’ Shield title is the first in this club’s history and was done in the first season of Petke’s tenure, the truth is I didn’t think success was likely. Thankfully for Red Bulls fans, I was proven wrong.

It was going to be a learn-as-you-go process for Petke, as he was living and dying at every single play on the field and every single referee decision. He was ready to throw towels, chairs and Gatorade bottles all over the place inside his technical area.

To see his heart showing on his sleeve is the Petke I knew when he was a central defender early in his career for the MetroStars. I felt that if anyone was going to break any form a curse or jinx, it was going to be a former player of this club and it was going to be in 2014.

I was expecting a full season of struggles for the Red Bulls even with world class attackers like Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill and a beast on the backline like Jamison Olave. Much of the struggle came from goal, as it was hard to predict who would start. And it was tough having confidence in Luis Robles, who struggled at the end of 2012. Yet I felt they could have a flurry of a finish and make the playoffs, while having another early exit.

These losing slumps the Red Bulls had were short and sweet, even though they were painful with bad draws against Toronto and Philadelphia, while also losing at Chivas USA, who was the second worse side in 2013. But when the ship had to be righted, Petke made sure he got his side back on the same page.

While the early exit from the playoffs happened and there was some disappointment to be shared, I have this funny feeling that the Petke Era has gotten off the ground in the right way. Not only has RBNY earned the Supporters’ Shield, but they’ve also qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League, which holds a delicious prize at its end.

Petke said something in the final post game press conference in the extra time loss to the Houston Dynamo in the playoffs that was very intriguing. He said that you can’t destroy all your demons in one season.

That’s true. While it would’ve been nice to see New York in the final game of the year, the MLS Cup Final will be held in Kansas City as Sporting will host Real Salt Lake. RBNY just simply wasn’t good enough to reach the final this year.

But for a guy who had no experience as a head coach of a pro or a college soccer team, Petke has shown that he has the attention of those world class players who believe in him because of one thing:

Just as Henry bleeds Arsenal for life and Cahill wears the Everton blue for life, Petke will always charge forward like the Bull he is.

NEXT UP: March 8 – Red Bull New York vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, BC Place, Vancouver, Canada. 7:30 p.m. EST, TSN.


Ramapo College
Club Domestic:
Red Bull NY
Club Foreign:
PSG, ManU, Maccabbi Haifa
Original New York Cosmos fan, reborn soccer fan since 1994 USA World Cup. Feuerstein’s Fire podcast host. Covers NY Red Bulls for SN, and promotes all levels of American soccer from both sides of issues.