HARRISON, N.J. (AP) -- Mike Petke, who leads the New York Red Bulls in games played, was named coach of the club Thursday.
The 36-year-old Petke had been serving as the team's interim coach after Hans Backe's contract was not renewed following the end of New York's season. Petke, who spent eight years with the franchise in two different stints as a defender, was elevated after attempts to hire Gary McAllister and Paulo Sousa failed.
With the MLS season set to begin March 3 and the team already in training in Bradenton, Fla., a move had to be made quickly.
Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh says Petke is very passionate about the club, and has shown the leadership and organizational qualities to be coach. Petke served as an assistant the last two seasons, after playing for the franchise as the MetroStars from 1998-2002 and later the Red Bulls from 2008-2010.