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Jason Kreis

If Jason Kreis is in trouble, so is NYCFC

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Say it ain’t so, New York City FC! Say it ain’t so!

SI.com is reporting that Jason Kreis’ job may be in peril. If that’s the case – not doubting SI’s reporting, just hedging against the better angles of good sense prevailing – then it says a lot about Major League Soccer’s high profile expansion club. And none of it is good.

If the men on high at City Football Group dismiss Kreis, mark that down as the “starting line” for the club’s long, slow march toward ingrained nincompoopery. That’s the silly place where ignorance (of MLS), ineptitude and arrogance intersect.

The SI report suggests a shakeup wouldn’t be all about Kreis’ performance as the first man in charge of this new, moneyed club. (Although it seems safe to presume we wouldn’t have this conversation if NYC had romped and stomped in 2015, collecting additional “Ws” and a high playoff seeding this year along the way.)

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Rather, the report suggest this is more about a desire to install former French standout Patrick Vieira, part of Les Bleus’ World Cup winner in 1998, a man now apprenticing as Manchester City’s top man in youth development.

First, NYCFC cannot do better than Kreis. The youngest manager to win an MLS Cup (with Real Salt Lake back in 2009) has more than proven himself in the league. People should write books about what he and general manager Garth Lagerwey did on shoestring budgets in Utah. They did it with a formula of balanced, shrewd roster assembly, tactical acumen and old-fashioned hard work on and off the training ground. No one toiled harder than Kreis at becoming the best manager he could be. (Sometimes to the point where you wondered if the man would push himself too hard and burn out too early.)

Kreis and Co. came within a whisker of winning MLS Cup 2013 in the frigid cold of Kansas City; that was his last match in charge at Real Salt Lake, after which he took a year to prep for his new position at Yankee Stadium, including a few months of study around the grounds of Manchester City.

He was the right choice, and good on NYCFC leaders for the smart appointment. So, what does it say now if they request a quick do-over? Kreis is the very same manager they hired (well, actually a better one). It’s not his fault if they overloaded the roster with aging Euros at the expense of a faulty back line. None of Kreis’ defenses at Rio Tinto Stadium were built of spare parts and youthful prospects, so it’s safe to wonder if he signed off on a back line at Yankee Stadium being constructed with such disregard.

(FYI, if they do pull the rug from beneath his feet, fear not: the line will form to the left. Ears undoubtedly perked up around MLS front offices Thursday morning when they heard this guy might soon be on the market.)

More to the point, this would say so many bad things about NYCFC.

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First, it says expectations may be set too high, a concerning indicator of “arrogance” at work. As in, “Yes, other expansion clubs struggle. But we aren’t other clubs.” Well, for the record, the last 10 MLS expansion clubs have averaged 8.4 wins; NYC has 10 going into the final weekend.

Falsely inflated expectations are dangerous because they contaminate the decision making process.

Second, the lessons of Chivas USA are being ignored: that MLS teams aren’t just starter factories for the “bigger, better” out there.

Major League Soccer certainly isn’t the Premier League in quality, relevance, acclaim or financial heft. Then again, it’s not a Sunday pub league, either. If the king makers at City Football Group treat the club as Chivas USA’s Mexican owners frequently treated its “stepchild” — as training wheels for its “more important” operation up the food chain — then it’s already doomed. It might not be the financial dumpster fire and branding wasteland that Chivas USA was, but it will be doomed to years of competitive stumble-bumble.

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Chivas USA arrogantly assumed its young reserves would suffice in the inferior MLS. Similarly, City Football Group seems to assume that Vieira can stride into MLS and immediately solve its quirks: the extensive travel that habitually surprises transplanted players and managers, the tight restrictions on player acquisition, best use of the American soccer players’ characteristics, etc.

Vieira surely has a sound soccer mind; this isn’t a knock on the man. But experience counts in MLS. Even a healthy budget for Designated Players cannot come close to guaranteeing success. Just ask the long-suffering fans around Toronto FC, where a first playoff appearance was just claimed, after eight years of failure to reach the easily-reached MLS post-season.

 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Distin

    October 23, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Yet another terrible article. MLS IS a grounding tool for City’s youngsters period. Kreis has performed poorly. It’s not just about wins his handling of the club has been poor. Tactically naive and poor motivator. Understand the club (MCFC) and its objectives before writing a very biased article from an MLS viewpoint only.

  2. David

    October 22, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Changing the manager at NYCFC won’t change anything. If NYC wants to get better, they should start by getting rid of Lampard and Pirlo. Both those players haven’t done a thing in MLS. NYC needs to use their DP slots on younger players.

  3. Purdman

    October 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Vieira has been in charge of the City EDS for a while now, MLS feels like a natural progression for his coaching, especially since he will have City EDS players on the squad.

  4. Christian

    October 22, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Supporters have been calling for Kreis out early on. They should have been afraid of what they were asking for.

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