HARRISON, N.J. -- Mike Petke, who leads the New York Red Bulls in games played, was named coach of the club Thursday.
The 36-year-old Petke had been serving as the team's interim coach after Hans Backe's contract was not renewed following the end of New York's season. Petke, who spent eight years with the franchise in two different stints as a defender, was elevated after attempts to hire Gary McAllister and Paulo Sousa failed.
Sousa, 42, had been close to filling the position, but he told The Associated Press on Thursday "we didn't reach a final agreement. This sometimes happens in football and we need to turn a page and focus on the future."
Sousa, who has managed British clubs Queens Park Rangers, Swansea and Leicester, left his job at Hungarian club Videoton earlier this month citing family reasons after winning three trophies inside two years.
Sousa said "this will be a fantastic opportunity for another manager."
That will be Petke, who was quickly promoted because the team is already in training in Bradenton, Fla. The MLS season is set to begin March 3.
Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said Petke is very passionate about the club, and has shown the leadership and organizational qualities to be coach. Petke served as an assistant the last two seasons, after playing for the franchise as the MetroStars from 1998-2002 and later the Red Bulls from 2008-2010.
The Red Bulls went 16-9-9 last season, finishing with 57 points.