After New York City FC’s first season ended in turmoil, controversy and a performance that was expected by most everyone except City’s owners back in Manchester, it seems that the plug is already being pulled. Sacking Kreis and his $1 million salary (way higher than any other manager in MLS) might seem like a no-brainer move to Sheikh Mansour and company in Manchester, but it reeks of hilarity on these shores. It’s not fair to Kreis, MLS or NYCFC’s fans who expected their new club to be more than just a City affiliate outpost in the US.
The Frank Lampard debacle was one worrying sign. The lack of any concrete movement in finding a stadium of their own was another. Then signing Andrea Pirlo against the wishes of Kreis and quite possibly Claudio Reyna was another ominous omen. And now this, and many MLS fans and observers outside of New York have begun to snicker, and for good reason.
Expansion teams in any league, even in MLS with its forced parity, will undergo struggles in their inaugural campaigns. Orlando City had plenty of ups and downs this season with far different roster construction. But with NYCFC’s mixture of older European DP’s, a revolving door of failed defenders and Kreis’ old hands with Real Salt Lake, the roster never seemed to gel, no matter what Kreis tried. And when problems arose, instead of being given time to fix it, Kreis was given another player who failed to make the required impact.
Kreis, as any manager, needs time to mold his side in his image, which he was afforded in Salt Lake City with players of a far lower pedigree. Making a managerial change to someone that knows nothing about MLS and its intricacies speaks not only of desperateness from CFG, it also further cements what they think of NYCFC, and it was something MLS was trying ever so hard to avoid.
When NYCFC was introduced to the world with the present setup, many were concerned that the club could morph into another Chivas USA. Early signs weren’t promising, but many preached patience, as they should. But if Jason Kreis were to get the axe for Patrick Vieira, then that would be proof positive of everyone’s worst fears. And it’s a shame because it shouldn’t be this way. And when NYCFC’s fans look across the river to see the Red Bulls renaissance, they can do nothing but scratch their heads.