Well, it happened. And by that I mean that it officially happened. Everybody sensed that RSL original, and Head Coach over the last 7 seasons, Jason Kreis has officially left for the greener pastures of New York City. Tonight came the official announcement.
Here is the very forward looking announcement from NYCFC. In this, it’s interesting to note that one of Kreis’s first acts will be to tutor under Manchester City Head Coach Manuel Pellegrini.
That announcement differs quite differently in tone from this one, which is more reflective on Kreis’s tenure with Salt Lake. However, a very interesting comment from owner Dell Loy Hansen jumps off the page in this one:
“We are certain that the job Jason leaves behind – with both the accomplished veteran core and the glut of promising youth – is quite attractive to potential candidates, and we expect to name Jason’s replacement next week.”
I guess in a way we shouldn’t be too surprised. Catching up briefly with GM Garth Lagerwey in Portland and then again in Kansas City it was obvious that Kreis’s future was at the top of his mind. In fact before the game in KC, Garth mentioned how much difference winning a 2nd MLS Cup (which unfortunately didn’t happen) would mean to cementing a legacy for RSL, I joked that he was probably already focused on getting back to the Cup in 2014. His immediate retort was that “there was a bigger issue to address before he could focus on that,” an obvious reference to Kreis’s seemingly imminent departure.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kreis, many, many, many times over the past seven years, and can say that I have a ton of respect for the man. He’s intense, focused, and he’ll let you know where you stand with him. He’s slow to smile or laugh but has a surprisingly dry humor that he’ll show once he reaches a comfort level with you. But what I take away most from those experiences is the tremendous thought that he puts into every single decision, and how masterfully he has built a cohesive, family-environment at Real Salt Lake. The Team is the Star certainly wasn’t lip service.
A few of my more memorable interviews with Kreis:
“I’m a worry wart. I’m a perfectionist. I’m obsessive compulsive about things and so for me I mull decisions, looking at them from every single angle that I can, and wake up in the middle of the night about them. And then when I make them, I will often-times look back and say ‘I wonder if I made the right one’. But I do think I’m getting more and more comfortable with that. Obviously having made so many decisions now over the last seven years, I do feel that once I made them I’ve really gone through all the ins-and-outs, and I should be comfortable with the decision that I’ve made because we’ve had some success along the way with those decisions.” (my final interview with Kreis prior to MLS Cup 2013)
“I think the first and biggest lesson that I learned is that it takes a certain amount of talent to get success and results in this league … you definitely have to have a base level of talent, and I think when I first took over we didn’t have that. It was also a big lesson to have a full time job and the amount of time that you spend in this job is greater than I ever had to spend as a player. And the third thing, the hiring and the firing of people that I care about.” (my first individual interview with Kreis, Goal.com)
“I think that there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, so we did, we looked at clubs like New England and Houston and tried to model ourselves after them. I think that particularly Houston was a team that took a collection of players that bought into something, that bought into what their coach was selling. It wasn’t a team full of stars it was a team full of average names, really. And that was kind of what I had envisioned. I had envisioned putting together a team full of a bunch of guys that were fighting and full of a bunch of guys that believed in themselves and believed in the direction of the club.” (also from the above interview, the first I began to hear of the “Team is the Star” concept)
“I feel extremely pleased with what the players put into this season. I feel extremely proud of all the statistical landmarks that we reached this year. I feel extremely proud that we’re the first MLS team to win their group in CONCACAF. There’s a ton of extremely positive things to draw from this season. It’s hard for me to walk away with anything but a lot of pride from that, and then I’ve got this one big black mark at the end of it that’s difficult for me to deal with, still.” (a still very devastated Kreis several days after losing in opening round of 2010 playoffs to FC Dallas, MLSsoccer.com)
Good luck, Jason! Until we meet again.