A bitter ending between Mike Petke and the New York Red Bulls created a messy divide between the former MLS defender and the organization back in early 2015, but he’s willing to put the bad blood in the past.
On Saturday, Petke and his Real Salt Lake side — which he now manages — will host the Red Bulls at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah for the first time since he became the club’s head coach.
The 42-year-old coach downplayed putting any extra emphasis on the match, as RSL looks for its first win of the 2018 MLS season.
“If I was coming back to play in Red Bull Arena there would be a lot more importance to me,” Petke said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday.
“There’s not hard feelings at all,” Petke said. “It’s going to be nice to see the couple of guys I was associated with. There’s nothing special about this game. It’s an opportunity for us.”
The Red Bulls have made waves over recent years with some of the club’s player and other personnel decisions, including Petke’s firing, but the former head coach says the Eastern Conference side has built a formidable academy and it is translating to on-field success.
“Since I left there’s been a huge improvement in the way they have changed their philosophies,” Petke said. “They don’t sign any more older foreign players. They build through their academy playing a set style.”Follow @MattReedFutbol