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Mike Petke: MLS Is Here To Stay

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke discussed on his coaches show with Brian Dunseth about his thoughts on Major League Soccer when he first joined in the league to what it has grown to.

When Petke entered the league in 1998 with the New York MetroStars, he was nervous of what he would do when the league folded.

“I remember saying ‘what the hell am I going to do when this league folds? I put everything I had into this, I left college early, I don’t have a degree,'” Petke said.

The RSL coach recently caught up with MLS commissioner Don Garber, Petke asked Garber if the league will be around when his 11-year-old wants to play in the league. “He [Garber] said ‘100 percent it will be around when your grandkids are here.’ To hear him say that compared to going through what we went through in the late 90’s and early 2000’s is amazing and a testament to the growth,” Petke added.

Expansion Expectations Have Changed

In today’s age of Major League Soccer, the expectations for new expansion clubs have changed compared to when the league started in 1996.

“Teams coming in now, do they have to be like Atlanta or LAFC? Or do they take a path of building something,” Petke said. “But then you have to worry about the fan base sticking by you,” he added.

The last four expansion teams in Atlanta United, LAFC, FC Cincinnati and Minnesota United have all had different paths. Both Atlanta and LAFC have had success since their first season, while Cincinnati and Minnesota have had to build.

“When we are talking about Minnesota United and FC Cincinnati, two teams that have come in that have different organic histories,” Dunseth said. “Both have had to stymie that immediate spending because they were building the stadium. We know that FC Cincinnati is going to swing for the fences when their stadium is done,” he added.

Real Salt Lake started in 2005. They won just five games in the first season, 10 games in 2006, 6 games in 2007 and made their first playoff appearance in 2008.

Bruce Arena Impression

Longtime MLS and United States soccer head coach Bruce Arena was recently hired to take over the role at the New England Revolution. Petke has had past encounters with Arena and even did an impersonation of Arena on the show.

“The first call up that I ever had [to the national team] was in San Jose, California,” Petke said. “It was right after my rookie year. This was the beginning of the cycle for the 2002 World Cup. It was after one session at Spartan stadium, we were playing Wales. I thought I was going to start, I thought I was playing well. I will never forget after one particular session, I walked off the field to the bus, thinking that I am playing well and all that I hear behind me was [in Arena impersonation], ‘hey Petke, did you have a six pack before this practice?’ Obviously I didn’t play well,” he added.

Petke mentioned before the story that he has the utmost respect for Arena.

Real Salt Lake will host Toronto FC on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. The match will be streamed on and the KSL TV app.