Kick Off: Petke says NY will "fight from first whistle to last"

As the New York Red Bulls searched worldwide for a new head coach, it turns out the perfect man for the job was right under their noses the whole time.   

RBNY legend Mike Petke had his interim tag replaced, as he was appointed head coach on Thursday. The Long Island native Petke was delighted to take the reigns on a permanent basis.

“I’m honored and privileged to have been put in this situation that I’m in now,” Petke told reporters. “You guys know how I feel about this organization, how I always have. Most of you guys remember me as a player; one thing that we will do is fight from the first whistle to the last whistle.”

With Petke’s appointment, the Red Bulls end one of the most speculated head coach searches in MLS history. Paul Lambert, Paulo Sousa, Gary McAllister, Harry Redknapp, Teitur Thordarson and Eric Wynalda were just some of the names linked with the MLS’ last open position, as Petke becomes the fifth new head coach in MLS since the 2012 season ended.

The guys at Big Apple Soccer reminisce about Petke’s playing days for the MetroStars and Red Bulls, with his passion for the city second to none. And read Soccer By Ives' take on the popular appointment.’s very own Andrew Wiebe looks at the league’s managerial fraternity and how Petke compares.

Elsewhere, big news broke in Utah as long-time Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts sold his remaining stake in RSL to new owner Dell Loy Hansen. Utah native Checketts has proved instrumental in the opening of Rio Tinto, MLS Cup success, a CCL final appearance and building a strong fan base in Salt Lake.

“The last eight years have been a labor of love,” Checketts said. ”When we started I made a promise to build something of meaning; something that people in my home state of Utah could be proud of.”

New RSL owner Hansen has been involved at Rio Tinto since 2009 and is delighted to acquire the club.

“Today, the chance to further deepen my participation in the growth of professional soccer in North America is incredibly exciting," he said. "I am proud that our investment now includes the entire Real Salt Lake family – starting with our incredible fan base.”

Take a look at Hansen’s entrepreneurial background, courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune.

And Hansen spoke out about more economic resources available to RSL, could Jason Kreis suddenly have some new DPs heading his way?

But the emphasis may be on youth, with RSL’s official twitter feed revealing some incredible academy news.

Some news out of LA will come as quite a shock to soccer fans around the US, as the Home Depot Center looks set for a name change. What would be your suggestions for the new name?

Continuing the theme of what has been a ridiculously busy week, USL Pro announced its schedule for the 2013 season as MLS reserve sides featured for the very first time. Twenty-six "interleague" fixtures between USL Pro sides will take place initially; see who your team will play.

MLS executive Todd Durbin emphasized the importance of the “groundbreaking” deal MLS and USL agreed to on Wednesday: "If MLS is going to be everything we want it to be and believe it can be in 10 years, it’s critically important we have a successful lower division in this country. That’s absolutely critical to the growth of the game.”

Sigi Schmid -- a long-term fan of US soccer’s third-tier after Seattle have taken players such as Osvaldo Alonso and Andy Rose from the USL in the past -- spoke out about his appreciation for the new setup giving his younger players the chance to play regularly. (VIDEO)

The latest podcast from MLS Reserves also focuses on the new Reserve League format and discusses the impact for MLS, USL and NASL.

And one of their guests, NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson, has commented on the move to link USL Pro and MLS, stating “our [NASL] priority is not to be a developmental league, but a league where you want to win.”

Read more of what Peterson had to say.

Let’s zip around the league quickly, with plenty of rumors flying around as preseason camps are well underway.

Vancouver could have a new star, with Japanese playmaker Daigo Kobayashi watching training on Thursday. (JAPANESE)

Joao Plata’s agent tweeted his client could be headed to RSL, with the speedy forwards future at Toronto FC in doubt.

Meanwhile, former Manchester United and Arsenal defender Mikaël Silvestre is still training with Portland. Get the latest on his potential transfer to the Rose City.

A former EPL player definitely signed with MLS, Italian ‘keeper Carlo Cudicini, has revealed which former Tottenham teammates spoke highly of the Galaxy.

A bit further North in Seattle, USWNT ‘keeper Hope Solo dropped by for a Q&A. Cheers, Hope.  

Over to the East coast, Revs’ forward Jerry Bengtson has risen as the next star name out of Honduras.

One player putting his aim to become a star player on hold is second-round 2013 SuperDraft pick Ryan Hollingshead. The UCLA standout was selected by FC Dallas, but has revealed he won’t be playing pro soccer for a while. Find out why.

But as one pro career has almost started, Zachary Herold’s ended abruptly. Read this touching story as the former USMNT youth star speaks of how his career ended just two days into preseason, after being drafted in 2010 by Toronto FC.

And one young man aiming to make an MLS roster this season is Machael David. Read his incredible story from Nigeria to Milan to UC Santa Barbara and then the MLS Combine, in the latest edition of Grantland’s Designated Player.

The US camp is in full flow, with next week's “friendly” against Canada fast approaching. Chris Wondolowski talks of trying to take his chance to shine.

While a youthful Canadian national team take on Denmark on Saturday (3 pm ET, streamed live on with Dwayne De Rosario apparently wanting to play for Canada forever. Good on you, DeRo.

If you’re a soccer gaming fan, then check out this incredibly cool idea one fan of legendary video game Sensible Soccer has come up with.

The big news coming out of the EPL today is that Wilfred Zaha’s move from Crystal Palace to Manchester United is complete. The England international will move in the summer from the Championship.

BBC Sport spoke to the people behind Zaha’s success, as the “skinny” kid from Ivory Coast signs for United. The Red Devils will be in FA Cup action on Saturday against Fulham (12:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Channel) while Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion will be hoping to upset Arsenal. (10 am ET, Fox Soccer Channel)

Three FA Cup games take place back to back on Sunday on Fox Soccer, with Brentford vs. Chelsea at 7 am ET, Leeds United vs. Clint Dempsey’s Tottenham at 9 am ET and Oldham hosting Liverpool at 11 am ET. So stay out of the cold, wrap up warm and enjoy some potential FA Cup upsets.

And finally, check out was has to be the world’s craziest free-kick, as Thai team Muangthong United, um … use their heads? Musts

LISTEN: Latest edition of ExtraTime Radio talks MLS/USL Pro

Three for Thursday: From Reserve league to MLS stars

The Throw-In: RBNY, Chivas and Toronto getting it right

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