Red Bulls’ interim head coach Mike Petke will lead New York’s contingent in Indianapolis for tomorrow’s MLS SuperDraft. However, if you know anything about the former Metrostars defender, he will be the last to admit to such a great responsibility.
“(Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh) has given me the honor, or I can say the privilege, of being down here and being the voice in a way and taking care of business down here,” Petke said.
Naturally, he added a humbling caveat to his role. “Andy is our boss. I am not saying that (Technical Director) Ricardo (Campos) and I are down here and running the show free reign. Absolutely not. It’s a group collaborative.
“Even though Andy is not here – he is away on business – he’s definitely a part of this collaboration as our boss and the head pretty much of the Red Bulls soccer team.”
Indeed, it has been a rocky offseason on the touchline for New York. Though rumors continue to swirl regarding the signing of Paulo Sousa as the team’s next manager, there has been no official announcement by the club. Meanwhile, Petke has been doing all the grunt work in preparation for the new season.
Not like he is complaining, of course.
“I’ve said it over the years and you guys know me well enough to know how true it is; this is where I want to be … New York,” he said. “I have proven to myself as well as the people around me that I put winning, Red Bulls winning a Championship, far above myself, far above money.”
He doesn’t just talk about that commitment either; he lives it. As Petke readily admits, he has walked into contract negotiations with the club, sans representation, and hammered out deals that have been, as he puts it, “literally five minutes long.”
“I went in there without an agent because it is not about that for me. If I do the right things, later on in life hopefully, it will all come around and be good.”
In his eyes, the returns are already showing. Petke has been handling communications with league officials throughout the winter months while spear heading scouting efforts by the team. It may not be the head coaching position he hopes to achieve for the future, but it is an invaluable start to achieving that end.
“When this whole thing came up, when Hans (Backe) was gone, I never once went in and said I want to be head coach,” he revealed. “If I was in another market, some other team that I had no loyalty to, maybe I would be pushing with that. I know at this moment, the last thing I would want to do is have the wrong person.
“Turn it back around, and they gave me the interim coach, and Andy gave me a lot of responsibility and trusted me coming down here. Literally, I had to come off of a cloud after that and then start getting to work. I love this club. I want it to succeed with or without me.
“I have said it to Andy, I have said it everyone; if I am fired tomorrow, which knock on wood I am not, if I am financially capable of it, I am going to be a season ticket holder,” he continued. “There is not going to be a lawsuit. There is not going to be hard feelings. This is business. I want this team to win.
“For me right now in this moment, to have some sort of role is phenomenal. My hometown club. It’s the club I started with, and at least I can say if I died tomorrow, I was the head coach for a little bit.”