Photo courtesy of Metrofanatic.com
Former MetroStars standout defender and fan favorite Mike Petke is coming back to New York some six years after leaving.
The New York Red Bulls made Petke the only player taken in Wednesday's MLS waiver draft following today's MLS Expansion Draft, bringing back one of the most beloved players in club history, according to sources with knowledge of the expansion draft results.
Petke, who turns 33 in January, was picked up to provide some veteran leadership on a defense that sorely lacked it in 2008. He will be expected to fill the void left by Jeff Parke, who was lost by the Red Bulls in Wednesday's expansion draft. Ironically, Parke finished the year just two games shy of Petke's team record for games played, a record Parke would have likely broken if not for the drug suspension that cut his season short.
Petke is currently out of contract, but is expected to agree to a deal with the Red Bulls that will allow the New York native to finish out his career with his hometown team.
(UPDATE) The Red Bulls also waived Venezuelan defender Gabriel Cichero, midfielder Gordan Kljestan and forward Sainey Touray.
Petke became a serious target for the Red Bulls once it became clear that Parke would be seeking a large contract and would most likely be heading to Europe to find one. Now Parke joins a defense that enjoyed a strong run in the MLS playoffs, but that probably needed a veteran presence like his in central defense.
Petke played in 11 games for the Rapids in 2008 due to early-season foot surgery that sidelined him for the first half of the season. It marked the first time in his 11-year career that he played fewer than 24 games in a season. Upon his return from foot surgery, and after the departure of Rapids head coach Fernando Clavijo, Petke still showed the ability to be a solid defender once he reclaimed his starting spot for the Rapids late in the season. He even scoring a goal against the Red Bulls in Colorado's 5-4 win at Giants Stadium on Sept. 27th. Petke finished with two goals in 11 matches in 2008.
Petke played 143 MLS games for the MetroStars from 1998 to 2002 (regular season and playoffs), a record that still stands to this day. He compiled a team record 12,305 minutes and registerd five goals and four assists during those five seasons. He earned MLS all-star honors from 2000 to 2003. Current Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio coached Petke for two of those seasons as a MetroStars assistant, in 2000 and 2001.
Petke was traded by the MetroStars to D.C. United after the 2002 season in a blockbuster deal involving U.S. national team legend Eddie Pope. Petke spent parts of three seasons with D.C., serving as a starter on the D.C. United MLS Cup championship team in 2004. He moved to the Colorado Rapids mid-way through the 2005 season and spent parts of four seasons there.
What do you think of the acquisition? Glad to see Petke back in New York? Think he can be a solid starter? Does his return help soften the blow of losing Parke? Think he is too old to be effective?
Share your thoughts below.