New York Red Bulls fire Mike Petke, name Jesse Marsch head coach

Former Red Bulls defender Mike Petke led the club to the Supporters' Shield and the Eastern Conference final over the past two seasons, but he is now out after two seasons in charge.

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New York Red Bulls have fired coach Mike Petke after two seasons in charge and replaced him with former Montreal coach Jesse Marsch.

Petke guided the Red Bulls to the Supporters’ Shield in his first season and took the club to the Eastern Conference final a year ago, but those exploits and a career regular season record of 30-19-19 did not prevent new sporting director Ali Curtis from dismissing Petke on Wednesday morning. 

"It was a very difficult decision, especially given Mike’s service to the club as a player and as well as a coach," Curtis said during a conference call on Wednesday afternoon. "At the end of the day, it is my decision and I own it."

The shocking news — first broken by Metro on Tuesday night — sent ripples across the league. Petke Tweeted just three days ago about his preparations for a new season, but those plans are now irrelevant.

The decision to part ways with Petke at this stage raises significant questions about the direction of the Red Bulls heading into 2015. Petke offered a stable pair of hands to guide the club into the post-Thierry Henry era, but his departure ensures more instability at a club all too familiar with upheaval. Marsch will become the 15th manager of the club in just 20 seasons.

Petke’s departure will pave the way for assistant coach Robin Fraser to join former Chivas USA colleague Greg Vanney at Toronto FC. Curtis confirmed Fraser’s departure from the club.

Marsch, a former assistant with the U.S. national team and player for Chicago and Chivas USA, spent the 2012 season in charge of the Impact. He compiled a 12-16-6 record during his one year at Stade Saputo.

"I know how fortunate I am to be the head coach of this team," Marsch said during the conference call. "I’m going to treat it that way. I’m really looking forward to getting to work."

Curtis said he looked forward to working with Marsch to implement a broad and wide-ranging plan to steer the Red Bulls into the future.

"This decision wasn’t about getting rid of Mike," Curtis said. "It was more about bringing in Jesse Marsch. We’re very excited to have Jesse. I’m looking forward to him contributing not just at the first-team level, but at all levels of our organization from our youth development platform all the way up to the first team."