New York City FC have now made the most important decision in the genesis of the franchise. The allure of New York and the backing of Manchester City meant that one of MLS’ top coaches was taken from his fledgling project. What Jason Kreis had done with Real Salt Lake in 2013 was a phenomenal achievement. Old heads such as Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola departed, and faith was placed in youngsters such as Luis Gil. Kreis blended these youngsters with the older heads like Saborio.
A crucial aspect of Kreis was also shown this season, his ability to take players above and beyond their expected performances. The likes of Ned Grabavoy and Joao Plata are testament to this important characteristic. While expectations were that this new look team would take time, Kreis managed to evolve the side to play the same attractive style of football that had made his side so successful.
Looking back to 2013, it was anything but evolution. The team posted a 16-10-8 record in the season, and finished with a positive goal difference of 16, with 57 goals scored total. It’s easy to see how RSL overcame the early changes: team spirit. It’s a phrase that is always associated with Kreis’ RSL, as defender Nat Borchers explains:
“I’ve never been part of a group that’s been more together than this group here. We really have a lot to build on, a lot of positive things I think given the performance we put in. We’ve got a lot of good, young players that have stepped up in the playoffs. They stepped up at the end of the game, which is fantastic to see. I bring a lot of positives out of this.”
Team spirit will be crucial in the early stages of NCYFC. With no team in place, little in the way of structure and with nowhere to train or play, Kreis will need to organize and build quickly. These are two things he should undoubted skill at in Utah.
However, Kreis was adored at RSL. He had an excellent working relationship with those around and above him, and he was in full control of all aspects of the playing side of RSL. At NYCFC, he’s taking a huge risk. With the club so much bigger financially and with the city allure, Kreis will be taking on an organisation where he may have reduced powers. He will also have to deal with a new type of player, the A-listers; think Thierry Henry level. Only time will tell if Kreis can deal with the change in pressure. While NYCFC have their hands on a young manager, who is still the youngest manager in MLS, the club will be entirely focused on silverware. Kreis openly admitted that silverware can be used against him:
“I think it will be easy to remember that we were so close on so many occasions to so many things and didn’t win. That’s certainly the negative viewpoint, and people can have that. I’m fine with that. But I hope everyone remembers how consistent this team was, and how we stuck to who we were.”
While Kreis is certainly an excellent manager, that mentality and the near misses, such as the U.S. Open Cup this season, are unlikely to be tolerated. This will especially be the case as the club’s rivals New York Red Bulls won their first trophy this season. While there are negatives, the positives are best explained through the hole Kreis has now left in RSL. His replacement is Jeff Cassar, a desire by RSL to continue what Kreis has done through the same staff. Over in New York, there’s a sense of excitement at what is about to come. Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said:
“Jason is one of the true pioneers of Major League Soccer, and a leader any team would be proud to have at the helm. His skills and experience, together with his commitment to quality football make him the ideal choice to lead New York City FC in its first season and beyond. He has already left a historic mark on the league, both as a player and coach, and we have every confidence in him continuing to do so at New York City FC.”
More importantly, Ferran Sorriano, who will provide a larger link to Manchester City, echoed the sentiments and told that Kreis’ leadership will be the ‘ideal platform’ for NYCFC to start. Kreis responded to the announcement by telling that although they will be pressured to bring in good results in their inaugural season, they will be prepared to get the ground running. In conclusion, there is no denying that New York City football club have signed one of the best managers in MLS.