Mike Petke - side view

Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke will coach against his former team the New York Red Bulls for the first time on Saturday.

With the game taking place in Utah (9 pm ET | TV & Streaming Info), Petke said there isn’t much to remind him of his years in New York, aside from the handful of people still associated with the team and the uniforms.

“If I was coming back to play in Red Bull Arena there would be a lot more importance to me,” Petke said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

He last coached the Red Bulls in 2014, when New York reached the Eastern Conference Championship before falling to the New England Revolution. In a surprise move, Petke was dismissed as head coach the first week of January 2015 -- after having gone 34-23-25 in two seasons, including a Supporters’ Shield in 2013. It was the club's first-ever piece of major silverware.

But Petke shrugged off the possibility of personal revenge.

“There’s not hard feelings at all,” Petke said. “It’s going to be nice to see the couple of guys I was associated with. There’s nothing special about this game. It’s an opportunity for us.”

After Real Salt Lake lost 5-1 to expansion side LAFC last Saturday, righting the ship on Saturday is important for setting the tone early in their campaign.

New York are coming off advancement to the Concacaf Champions League semifinals on Tuesday night and may be reaching deeper down their roster as they did a week ago, when they made nine changes to the lineup in league play. The move worked, as New York beat Portland 4-0 behind their contingent of young players.

In that regard, New York and RSL aren’t all that different. Their rosters contain a growing group of Homegrown players that have come up through their academies and USL teams.

That may not have been the case a few years ago for the Red Bulls, but their development programs, which Petke helped with in his time there, have flourished with talent.

“Since I left there’s been a huge improvement in the way they have changed their philosophies,” Petke said. “They don’t sign any more older foreign players. They build through their academy playing a set style.”

It doesn’t sound all that different from RSL’s philosophy.

“We’re a team that compared to a lot of other teams, with the amount of money they pay, it’s a different philosophy here. That’s why we have to rely on our academy,” Petke said.

“The one thing I have to say is, playing these young kids, people have to realize you have a lot of teams that have talented young players. They have to put the work in. They have to earn it. They have to work for it to continue to the first team.”