The Mike Petke Problem

Only 2 years on the job and the club cuts him loose
by Daniel Feuerstein   |   Thursday, January 08, 2015

Branded Bulls – column on Red Bull NY (RBNY – NYRB) & the New Jersey area soccer scene.

Late Tuesday night, news hit that Red Bull New York’s head coach Mike Petke was fired.

Petke, who quickly took over the club after Hans Backe wasn’t retained, brought the club its first ever trophy by winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2013. He also got the Red Bulls into a deep playoff run in 2014, raising the club to its first playoff win at Red Bull Arena against Sporting Kansas City. The Red Bulls also broke a curse and defeated DC United in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. In fact, RBNY was just a goal short of the MLS Cup Final against the New England Revolution, too.

So, yeah, he’s done a lot.

At the moment, he’s the only former player who became the head coach of the club that brought this side either as Metro or RBNY any form of positive direction. And he has been sacked for no reason.

When the news broke out on Twitter and Facebook, the meltdown was palpable. The outcry was justified, as fans and pundits alike couldn’t understand why brand new Sporting Director Ali Curtis would just come out of the blue and fired Petke, who was a successful coach by MLS standards.

Some have already threatened to revoke their season tickets, others decided to not come to Red Bull Arena this season. There are even some NYC fans who want to jump ship to New York City FC.

What the supporters need to know is that this firing is not coming from the top of the Red Bull Global Soccer department. This firing has come straight towards Curtis, who has a one year deal that he just signed to become the sporting director.

But, as always, when Mike Petke comes to the podium and discusses his players after the games or during training sessions, he left with the class and dignity. He left this message to the fans:

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your kind words. I have lived my dream for the past 2 years. It was bound to end some day, and that day has arrived. I want to thank my players and staff for all the work you have done over the past 2 years, specifically Robin Fraser, Ricardo Campos, Juan Romero, John Wolyniec and David Alvarez and Brian Tsao. Thank you to Andy Roxburgh for this opportunity and taking a chance on me. To the supporters, especially the South Ward, you have embodied everything that I live my life by; Respect, Accountability and above all Loyalty. Thank you for everything you have done for my family and I. I can never repay you. I will see you at some point at the Arena as I will always support this team. Thanks to everyone for the time of my life.

Mike Petke”

There are reports that Jesse Marsch, the former Montreal Impact head coach, has taken the job, but just think for a minute as why Curtis didn’t want Petke anymore. Is it the fact that he feels having a 1-year deal made him think he needed to put a true punctuation mark on his first job as a sporting director? Or he feels that making the fans angry is a great start to his tenure?

If the 2015 season started off with a bang in the New York City area for all the wrong reasons, then soccer in this area is truly on it’s way towards a major meltdown.


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.