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Kragthorpe: RSL’s Mike Petke will wait to make his mark

First Published      Last Updated Apr 24 2017 09:51 pm

Sandy

The lasting impression of Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke's introduction, aside from his pronounced New York accent, is how he's insisting on staying out of the way in his first weekend on the job.

This might be unprecedented in pro sports: A newly hired coach not coaching.

Petke will make his imprint on RSL soon enough. Yet he's willing to let assistant coach Daryl Shore lead the team for another game — Saturday at Minnesota United.

"The last thing I want to be is a disruption," Petke said during Wednesday's news conference at Rio Tinto Stadium.




That's fine. Nearly seven months remain in the Major League Soccer regular season, plenty of time for Petke to coach this team and salvage the season. And allowing Shore and the rest of the staff to follow through on this week's preparation is healthy.

Petke's accent will be a little jarring to Utahns. So was the firing of coach Jeff Cassar only three games into the season. But here's the thing: Petke is an upgrade. He's a proven MLS coach. The two big breaks for RSL were that the New York Red Bulls fired Petke after the 2014 season and that he was willing to become the coach of the RSL-owned Real Monarchs after two years out of the league.

That makes his promotion to this position fairly smooth, even if there naturally will be questions about whether Petke accepted that job knowing the RSL job could be coming open. General manager Craig Waibel shot down that theory: "It was clear as day that the intention was not anything other than the Monarchs' job."

Petke took it in December, and here he is in March — suddenly back in MLS.

Petke made a good impression Wednesday. When someone cautiously inquired about what happened in New York, where he posted a 30-19-19 record in two seasons, he responded good-naturedly, "You mean, why was I fired? You can say it. Two years of therapy, I'm over it."

And the Red Bulls' move ends up helping Real. Now about that RSL offense, which has produced one goal during the team's 0-2-2 start. If Petke needed any more credentials, the Monarchs' two goals in a win at Portland last Saturday further endorsed him.

He described RSL's attack as "a very high-powered offense … an animal waiting to be released from a cage."

Fans will expect results, beginning with Petke's first game on the sideline against Vancouver on April 8 in Sandy. Next week's practices will require adjustments by the players, hearing a new voice. Petke met briefly with the team Wednesday, while promising "there will be more to come."

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt

 

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