After more than two years away, Mike Petke has returned to the MLS coaching ranks.
Real Salt Lake has hired Petke as its new head coach on a multi-year deal, the club announced Wednesday, promoting the 41-year-old after a brief stint with the organization's second-tier affiliate.
"Mike's leadership capabilities, his track record, work ethic and fiery personality are anticipated to confidently lead Real Salt Lake into a new era,” RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen said in a news release. "Mike quickly integrated himself into our club, and has embraced both the pressure of our short-term expectations and all the tenets and principles guiding our long-term intentions."
RSL fired coach Jeff Cassar on March 20 after an 0-2-1 start to the coach's fourth season in charge. Salt Lake director of goalkeeping Daryl Shore served as interim coach for a 0-0 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, and will coach RSL for Saturday's trip to face Minnesota United.
After ending the 2016 regular season with a seven-match winless run and falling to the LA Galaxy in the playoffs, RSL has now gone 12 matches without a victory — a skid dating back to August.
Petke coached his hometown Red Bulls from 2013 to 2014, winning the Supporters' Shield in his first campaign for the club's first major trophy. The Red Bulls advanced to the Eastern Conference final after a fourth-place finish in 2014 but surprisingly replaced Petke with Jesse Marsch that December.
An MLS veteran who played for New York, D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids over a career spanning from 1998 to 2010, Petke joined the RSL organization in December as coach of USL side Real Monarchs. He ended up coaching just one game for the affiliate, a 2-1 win over Portland Timbers 2 on Saturday to open the USL season.
"I am honored to be charged with delivering pride and excellence to the passionate RSL fan base," Petke said. "I arrived in December thinking this was the right fit and the right opportunity; the vision and blueprint provided by Mr. Hansen permeates from the first team to the Monarchs and through to our academy and our [training] facilities that open this fall."