When Jason Kreis announced that he was leaving Real Salt Lake to become the first manager of New York City FC after the 2013 MLS season, he said part of him wanted to take the type of risk he never got around to taking during his playing career.
It was an admirable and perfectly understanding sentiment from a man who scored 108 MLS goals but never tested himself overseas or played in the World Cup.
But the risk – as risks are wont to do – backfired. Consistently undercut by upper management and unable to find a winning formula for his expansion team, Kreis was unceremoniously fired last November after just a single season in New York.
But Kreis, who won 102 games and an MLS Cup while turning small-market RSL into the league’s most stylistically advanced club from 2007 to 2013, was never going to be unemployed for long.
One failure, especially one with the kinds of mitigating circumstances Kreis had at NYCFC, never damages reputations beyond repair.
You can fail once. Two failures, though, is an entirely different story. That’s why Kreis’ decision to replace Adrian Heath and jump back into MLS management with Orlando City is a slightly surprising one.
Considering his recent experience, you’d think Kreis – who could afford to be fairly choosy – would opt for a relatively stable situation.
Orlando is not that.
Last December, the club’s Brazilian owner Flavio Augusto da Silva hired former Benfica executive Armando Carneiro as the club’s Chief Soccer Officer – undercutting the established GM Paul McDonough, who latched on with Atlanta United.
Then, less than two months after being hired, Carneiro was gone too – citing personal reasons and leaving soccer operations in the hands of founder and co-owner Phil Rawlins.
Heath, who had assistant coach and former Orlando City player Ian Fuller fired out from under him during the offseason, never had much of a chance once the institutional musical chairs started.
Didn’t matter that Heath had been at the club since its inception in 2011, and with the organization since its inception in Austin as the Aztecs in 2008. It also didn’t matter that Orlando’s front office work this year – Antonio Nocerino and Julio Baptista, for instance – was decidedly unhelpful.
Rawlins’ future may not be entirely secure either. The former Stoke City owner has dismissed rumors that he too could be on his way out, but the club’s increasingly Brazilian-centric feel since the end of last season isn’t a coincidence.