All Mike Petke knows is that he will be sitting somewhere at Minnesota United’s stadium Saturday, just not on the RSL team bench. (Robert Hitz Photo)

By Michael Lewis

Front Row Soccer Editor

Mike Petke was named Real Salt Lake head coach Wednesday, but he won’t start pulling the strings of his job until Sunday.

In other words, the former Red Bulls head coach is staying out of the way of interim head coach Daryl Shore and the rest of the staff as they prepare the team for Saturday’s game at Minnesota United. The Bohemia native doesn’t want to interfere with the process as a distraction.

Translated: he can wait.

Earlier on Wednesday, Petke met the team for the first time. He said that if that encounter “lasted … a minute I would be surprised.”

“The last thing I want to be is a distraction in the middle of the week getting ready for a big game,” he said. “I said hello to them. I gave my full blessing to Daryl and the coaching staff, congratulated on a good performance and result in New York and told them that there would be more to come. I think it was the right thing to do and it was the right message to send.”

Petke will travel with the team, although he admitted he did not enough the exact seating arrangements in Minnesota.

“It’s a very interesting dynamic,” Petke said. “I don’t want to be a distraction, so I won’t be on the bench. I will be with the team traveling. I liken it to perhaps a fly on the wall at times. … I will be sitting up in the box unless they don’t give me a box. I’ll sit up in section 100 or whatever and watch it from there.”

Petke’s first game will be against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Rio Tinto Stadium April 8.




Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at