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The scenario already has been through Mike Petke's mind: Should the Real Monarchs find themselves up 1-0 late in a match this season, should he scrap the approach, become defensive-minded with his substitutes, bunker down and hold on?
Or should he put on an attack-minded player to go for the killer goal that puts the opposition down and play the way the Monarchs want to play in 2017?
"To be quite honest," said Petke, the former New York Red Bulls coach hired this offseason to lead Real Salt Lake's USL affiliate, "I don't have that answer quite yet."
The former Red Bulls boss will have time to figure it out. He's in a new realm, tasked with balancing development of young players with aspirations of one day making it to the RSL first team and winning matches something that has been a tough go for the Monarchs entering Year 3 in the USL.
Petke, 41, has been out of coaching since his surprise firing by the Red Bulls at the conclusion of the 2014 season. The former MLS defender led New York to its first major trophy in 2013 when the Red Bulls hoisted the Supporters' Shield that year. He takes over for former Monarchs coach Freddy Juarez, who was named an RSL assistant coach in the offseason.
So how much did Petke miss life in cleats with a whistle around his neck?
"Painfully," he said. "But like I said all along, as much as I missed it, I didn't want to just jump into any opportunity. And I had a couple of opportunities, and they just didn't feel right at the end of the day."
The Monarchs overhauled their roster in the offseason. They signed former RSL midfielder Sebastian Velasquez and Nick Besler, a former first-round draft pick of the Portland Timbers. Also part of the group now is former MLS forward Chandler Hoffman and Brighton High product Taylor Peay, who was signed this week after seeing his time with the Timbers come to an end in January.
"I think we finally found the balance between the competitive nature of [roster construction] the experience and also the promise and balance of the roster," RSL general manager Craig Waibel said. "We have some talent that's developing and we still have some guys that we think are on the cusp of being MLS players that maybe have already played two or three years as pros in some standpoints."
Petke's assistant coaches are longtime RSL defender Jamison Olave, who retired this offseason, and two former Wilmington Hammerheads, coach Mark Briggs and his former assistant Matt Gleaser.
The Monarchs remain in search of their first USL postseason appearance. The 2017 season will be their last playing at Rio Tinto Stadium before transitioning to their full-time home at the Herriman soccer complex next year.
And the hope is Petke, a proven coaching commodity in American soccer, not only will continue the pipeline of Monarchs-to-RSL, but remain in contention late into the fall.
"Developing players to get to the first team, you could argue, is of utmost importance," Petke said. "However, I'm a very competitive person, the players want to win and winning plays into that development as well."
Real Monarchs 2017 season preview
New staff leading the way • Coach Mike Petke, assistant coach Mark Briggs, assistant coach Jamison Olave, assistant coach Matt Gleaser
Notable new names • Midfielder Sebastian Velasquez, defender Nick Besler, forward Chandler Hoffman, midfielder Chase Minter, defender Taylor Peay
Familiar faces • Goalkeeper Connor Sparrow, defender Emilio Orozco, midfielder James Moberg, defender Max Lachowecki, midfielder Andrew Brody, midfielder Charlie Adams
2017 USL season opener •: 8:30 p.m. MDT Saturday at Portland Timbers 2 at Providence Park
2017 USL home opener • 4 p.m. April 1 vs. Phoenix