Jason Kreis is moving on. Less than one week from losing the MLS Cup on penalty kicks, Coach Kreis has decided to leave his post at Real Salt Lake for fortune and glory with the New York City FC, who won’t begin playing until 2015.
Kreis and RSL are connected so strongly that it surprises me this separation doesn’t involve surgery. Real Salt Lake came into existence in 2004. Who was the club’s first player? Jason Kreis. Who scored the club’s first goal? Jason Kreis. Who was RSL’s first kiss? I don’t know, but I can only assume.
Then in 2007 Kreis evolved from a player to a coach, all in the course of a week. He announced his retirement from being a player, and BoOOM! Instant coach. Kreis would go on to coach a team in 2009 that got hot at the right time, streaking through the playoffs and capturing the club’s first MLS Cup. During Kreis’ tenure, RSL consistantely ranked among the top teams in the Western Conference, finishing no worse than third from 2010 to 2013.
The 40-year-old coach brought a unique style to the MLS. Real Salt Lake is known for its love of possession and passing. People within the league are always admiring the way they play, mentioning that it is how soccer should be played in America. It takes discipline and skill, and both have come through the coaching and management of their coach.
Kreis has now been given the opportunity to take the next step in his career. He goes from one of the smaller markets in the league to the largest in the world. For the next year, Kreis will spend time with Manchester City, the team backing all things NYCFC, learning and being hand-fed the path to success. He’ll have more money, better access to prospects, and a sales pitch to players that reads “Manchester City is watching you”. If a player wants to get into English soccer, he would be hard pressed to find a better route than NYCFC.
No one thinks this is a bad move, not even people in Salt Lake City. Jason Kreis is becoming a beacon of what the MLS can be in the future. Could we look back at this day, remembering when the “best coach in MLS history” moved to NYCFC? It wouldn’t really surprised me. Potential just got a new name.
But in the same breath, he is also setting himself up for disaster. New York is a hard sports town to satisfy. The harsh media and fanbase always expect success. If NYCFC fails to get off the ground in the first two years, it won’t take long for them to find a coaching replacement. It’s a high-risk, high-reward situation that Americans have seen go either way. I wish Kreis the best of luck.
As for Real Salt Lake, they have to fill in the whole left by Kreis’ departure. Soon after the announcement of the new coaching vacancy, Salt Lake City radio station ESPN 700 tweeted three potential candidates: RSL assistant coach Jeff Cassar, New York Red Bull assistant coach Robin Fraser, and former USMNT player Eric Wynalda.
— Bill Riley (@espn700bill) December 11, 2013
The move can best be summarized as an expected earthquake. The rumor of Kreis leaving have been floating around for weeks. When any coach leaves a team it involves changes, when one of the league’s premier coaches leaves it brings waves of massive restructuring. RSL still has the great players that got it to the MLS Cup, but things will be surly be different from now on. Let’s hope RSL can keep their enjoyable style of play.