BULLS LET GO PETKE

New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill, left, chases the ball against New England Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones during the first half of the second soccer game of the MLS Eastern Conference final in Foxborough, Mass. The match ended 2-2 and New England advances with a two-game aggregate 4-3.
Associated Press / Elise Amendola

The year is just over a week old but a lot has happened so far in MLS. Teams are making moves among their technical staff, in player personnel via trades and the MLS draft, and in administration in anticipation of yet another very competitive year in MLS. In the biggest news of the eventful week, the New York Red Bulls replaced Head Coach Mike Petke with former Montreal Impact Coach Jesse Marsh.

On the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 7, the Red Bulls announced that Petke will not be rehired. In a later statement to the Press, Red Bulls’ new Sporting Director, Ali Curtis, declared, “On behalf of the New York Red Bulls, I want to thank Mike for his service to the club these past two seasons as head coach,” the new director who recently replaced Andy Roxburgh continued, “Mike will always be an important member of the Red Bull family.”

Hours later on Wednesday, Curtis said this in a media conference call: “On behalf of the New York Red Bulls, I’d like to welcome Jesse aboard as our new head coach,” Curtis continued, “We’re excited to bring someone on who has both MLS and US Men’s National Team coaching experience and we strongly believe he is the right candidate to lead our team going forward.”

In his response, Marsh said, “I’m honored to be joining a franchise like the New York Red Bulls and I want to thank the organization for this opportunity,” said the coach, who led the Impact to 12 wins in the club’s inaugural season in 2012. “I’m excited to get going with our players and sporting staff as we prepare for the 2015 season.”

Marsh – an MLS player for 14 years with DC United, Chicago Fire and Chivas USA – won three MLS Cups and four U.S. Open Cups. He also coached with the US Men’s National Team, serving as Bob Bradley’s assistant for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2011 Gold Cup. The USMNT advanced to the knockout round in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and to the tournament final in the 2011 Gold Cup.

Petke, last season, led the Red Bulls to the Eastern Conference finals and won the 2013 MLS Supporter’s Shield in his first season, the team’s first such trophy. Petke’s two years were considered the most successful in club history; his record with the Red Bulls is 30-19-19 (2-3-2 in playoffs).

Also, it was announced by the club that former England international Frank Lampard, New York City FC’s marquee signing, will not join the team in its inaugural season in MLS until July, missing the first four months of the campaign. Lampard will stay on in the English Premier League with NYCFC parent club Manchester City until the end of the English Premier League season. The veteran Chelsea FC (England) midfielder is scoring very important goals for Manchester City, which is atop the English Premier League and in a tight race with Chelsea for the championship title. Lampard notched five goals in his 15 appearances so far, among them a game-winner versus Sunderland on New Year’s Day, which put Manchester in a tie for first place with Chelsea.

Meanwhile, there were concerns among New York City fans about NYCFC’s commitment to field a very competitive team, but MLS Commissioner Don Garber, in a statement, attempted to allay fans’ concerns. “I could understand why their fans are unhappy, and I do believe [NYCFC] will work hard to build back that trust,” Garber told SI.com. “They’ve started that process already.”

Out West, Coach Bruce Arena and the defending MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy announced the signing of another former England international and Liverpool (England Premier League) legend, Steven Gerrard. The 34-year-old midfielder, expected to join the Galaxy during the summer transfer window in July, issued this statement.

“I’m very excited to begin the next chapter of my career in the United States with LA Galaxy,” Gerrard said. “The Galaxy are the most successful club in Major League Soccer history, and I am looking forward to competing for more championships in the years to come. My discussions with Bruce Arena and Chris Klein were extremely positive, and the future of the team is very bright.

“I am committed to helping the LA Galaxy compete for trophies and to having an impact in Los Angeles, and I will give my all for the club. In the meantime, I will continue to give everything for Liverpool for the remainder of this season before joining up with the Galaxy.”

The Galaxy also announced that the club re-signed forward Alan Gordon, who scored five goals and added an assist in 14 regular season appearances last season….Sporting Kansas City signed the Honduran international Roger Espinoza from English club Wigan Athletic.

New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke, right, hugs forward Thierry Henry (14) after defeating Sporting Kansas City 2-1 in an MLS playoff soccer match at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., last year.
Associated Press / Rich Schultz

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