By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
February 6, 2013-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is very pleased that the 19 Major League Soccer team rosters continue to have many of our alumni. We are also quite pleased that the two marquee franchises in MLS––the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls––have as their head coaches men who grew up playing in ENYYSA. Bruce Arena, the dean of American soccer coaches, is the coach of the Galaxy while Mike Petke is the new head coach of the Red Bulls.
Arena has won five NCAA championships and four MLS Cups plus led the USA to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup. The Franklin Square native played soccer for Carey High School plus New York Hota in the 1960’s, which was then playing in the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League. It was then on to Nassau Community College and Cornell University, where he received many honors as both a soccer goalkeeper and a lacrosse player.
Arena’s soccer coaching career started at the University of Puget Sound in Washington State in 1976. He was named the head coach at the University of Virginia in 1978. He held that position for 18 years, leading the Cavaliers to five Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships and five NCAA national championships, including four in a row from 1991 to 1994. He moved on to DC United in 1996, which won the inaugural MLS Cup that year as well as the next season. 1998 saw international honors as DC United won both the CONCACAF Champions Cup and Interamerican Cup.
Arena became the head coach of the US Men’s National Team, leading the red, white and blue to the World Cup in both 2002 and 2006. In June 2004, to prepare for a qualifying series against Grenada, Arena held the National Team training camp at his old stomping ground at Hota in Franklin Square. He led the Los Angeles Galaxy to the past two MLS Cups in 2011 and 2012.
While few have the coaching experience of Arena, Mike Petke has never been a head coach. But then again, the team he is now leading, the New York Red Bulls, have never won any championships during MLS’s 17-year history. The Bohemia native grew up playing for ENYYSA’s Olympic Development Program, for the Bohemia Soccer Club and Brentwood Soccer Club in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) and for St. John the Baptist High School. At Southern Connecticut State, he won the NCAA Division 2 championship in 1995 and was a 1998 first round draft pick of the MetroStars, the team that became the Red Bulls.
After five years with the MetroStars, Petke was traded to DC United, the team’s biggest rival, on Christmas Eve in 2002. And just like Tony Meola and Peter Vermes, homegrown players who were original MetroStars, Petke had to go elsewhere to win his championship. In 2004, DC United beat the Kansas City Wizards, 3-2, to win the MLS Cup.
Traded to the Colorado Rapids in 2005, Petke spent the majority of the next four years in Colorado before returning to the Red Bulls in 2009 and playing well enough to be named the team’s Defender of the Year. In 2010, he became the second person to score a goal in the beautiful new Red Bull Arena. After retiring from playing that year, Petke served as a Red Bulls’ assistant coach before being named head coach last week.
Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh commented, "I worked with him on the pitch for two weeks when the players were training. From that moment, I was really impressed. He’s well organized, has got respect of the players. Mike is very experienced in terms of MLS. If you brought a coach in from Europe, he might be experienced in Europe, but he would be inexperienced here in the US. Mike starts with that, an enormous advantage. He knows the league and he is absolutely passionate about the club. All of these things added up to making Mike an appropriate choice for us...I think it will be an interesting adventure for us all."
With 123,843 youth soccer players––68,587 boys and 55,256 girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 12 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.