With the Blues’ getting ready to play their final game of the 2015 MLS campaign on Sunday, it’s possible that head coach Jason Kreis could be leaving the Big Apple.
By Jeff Weisinger
New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis should be used to being a “first” in professional American soccer. He was the first player in the history of Real Salt Lake, first MLS player to score the first franchise goal for two different teams (FC Dallas), the first American born player to be named league MVP in 1999, the first 15-goal, 15-assist player in league history, the first RSL coach to lead that club to the playoffs, let alone an MLS Cup title in 2009 — the youngest to do so — and a runner-up spot in 2013 and was the first head coach in the history of New York City Football Club.
He also could be the first head coach that NYCFC fired.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, “multiple sources connected to Manchester City and New York City FC say Jason Kreis’s job as the coach at NYCFC is in real danger. It’s not a done deal yet, but all signs are pointing to his replacement being Patrick Vieira, the 1998 World Cup winner and former Arsenal star who has been serving as Man City’s elite development squad manager.”
I’m not going to say that City Football Group is in an apparent panic mode or anything, however to fire your first ever head coach after just his first season while he did everything he possibly could to field a Starting XI while dealing with numerous injuries, inconsistencies, late arrival by designated players, specifically a guy named Frank Lampard who was with the team, then wasn’t with the team, then would eventually be with the team which constantly forced him to have to re-shuffle his lineups on a weekly, if not a daily basis … well, you can decide that one.
— SiriusXM FC (@SiriusXMFC) October 22, 2015
How NYCFC finishes Sunday against the playoff-bound New England Revolution could determine Kreis’s job security in the Bronx, at least for 2016. But to replace a proven MLS head coach with one in Patrick Vieira – who’s never coached a first-team, nor knows the nuances of American soccer, particularly MLS is definitely one that raises a question that some, I especially, have asked since early in the season: is this club actually concerned with building a long-term winning product, or are they just a franchise that can bring in big names to help build the sport in America, let alone cater to the massive New York City soccer supporter base?
There’s no questioning Vieira’s qualifications. He’s already coaching Man City’s elite development team, the same squad that NYCFC received both Shay Facey and Angelino, and a World Cup winner. He’s had a role with Man City’s youth development programs since 2011 and has already declined an opportunity with Newcastle United due to difference in policies.
Vieira is highly regarded by CFG and Manchester City is well aware of his desire to coach a senior team. They believe that NYCFC would be a good start for him.
However Vieira has had trouble looking for a job in England. Many clubs are not willing to give him a chance, despite his credentials as a player. The belief across the pond is that NYCFC would be a better fit for Vieira because he could make mistakes and learn from them, away from the pressure of the English Premier League.
However, there’s the big name and then there’s Kreis — an MLS Cup winning coach, a coach that helped take a struggling franchise and turn it into one of the elite clubs in MLS, and a coach that’s dealt with more issues with his roster than any coach in MLS this season.
Unfortunately, unlike Vieira probably would, Kreis wasn’t allowed to make mistakes or miss the playoffs, despite leading the Blues to a 10-win season, something not too common for first-year expansion teams in the league. It’s also 10 wins, possibly 11 considering what happens on Sunday, with a makeshift Starting XI on a weekly basis.
The first-year was far from perfect. The team isn’t going to the playoffs, despite a late push to sneak into the postseason, the Blues crumbled in a downpour in D.C. and the fans have thrown their blame at the head coach. Maybe the fans will get what they want in the end, and Kreis’s last game at the helm of New York City’s soccer team will end after Sunday evening.
Hope NYCFC, Man City and City Football Group know that sometimes the grass, or pitch, isn’t always greener on the other side.
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