Thinking through what we now know about Jason Kreis’s links to NYCFC

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Last night on ESPN, Alexi Lalas gave us some new information about Jason Kreis and NYCFC. Thanks to Brian Straus at Sports Illustrated, already knew there was interest, that Kreis had flown to meet with U.K.-based deciders, but we didn’t know much about the other side of the story. Why was Kreis entertaining leaving RSL?

According to Lalas, an initial contract offer made earlier this year was “lowball” one. It’s not hard to see where that information came from (no club is going to call their own offer “lowball”). Since, RSL has offered Kreis another deal, one that would make him the third-highest paid coach in the league. Only Bruce Arena and Sigi Schmid could big-time the RSL boss.

Steve’s covered all this before, but with Kreis’s future back in the news (and sure to stay in the news throughout the playoffs), it might be worth another swing at this log; though, if you read that post, feel free to gloss over this. A lot of it is just a different guy’s take on the same speculation.

For a team like RSL, that’s a big commitment, one that’s helped keeps anything related to lowballing out of consideration. Now it’s about life style versus opportunity.

On one hand, it’s about a long relationship with the team and a firmly established life in the area. His kids are entering high school, so to pick up and move (or, spend major time away from his family) is a decision that transcends any short-term misgivings about an out-of-date offer. Kreis wouldn’t uproot his family to play out a grudge.

On the other hand, it’s worth noting the extremely unique nature of the NYCFC job. As we saw in the lead-up to and announcement of MLS’s 20th team, this is going to be a focal point franchise. Whereas New York Red Bulls are out in Harrison, NYCFC is in the league’s backyard. They’re going to have huge financial resources, presumably access to player resources from Manchester City, and will carry other benefits of their link to one of the biggest clubs in the world.

It’s already a $100 million commitment from City’s owners (some Yankees money is in there, too). They’re not going to neglect it.

Think about it: City’s a club that operates at the highest levels of the game. The people you’ll be linked to (like current president, former Barcelona president Txiki Begiristain) carry influence throughout the European game. Sure, you’re not going to be running into them in the company mess hall, but you’ll be working with people that come from their circles. Impress on the ground in MLS, and you could gain access to a world that’s been cut off to American coaching talent.

You may not be the next coach at Manchester City, but with your name in that network, maybe you find yourself interviewing for jobs in Holland or Belgium? Maybe even a club down the English ladder, where coaches and executives from City have taken new positions?

Those are the implications of the NYCFC job. Not only will the club have a number of competitive advantages (thanks to their assumed backing), but there are huge professional implications. For Kreis, only 40 years old, this maybe a line in the sand. If he’s ever going to leave Utah, it will be for an opportunity like this.

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New York City FC (NYCFC) will start play in MLS in 2015 as the league’s 20th franchise. While that would mean Jason Kreis, their potential first coach, may sit for one season while waiting for their opener, the opportunities surrounding the club may be too good to pass up.

That’s the other thing about the Kreis-to-NYCFC story. The guy’s been at RSL since 2007. Most coaches don’t get that long with a team, and even those that do run out of steam. Their message gets old. They run out of ways to make things new. They’ve accomplished all they can, or maybe they just want to test themselves against a different set of challenges. Kreis clearly loves Utah, but he’s a competitive man with competitive ambitions. At some point, staying in Utah may feel like a concession – a young man settling in long before he needs to.

In that sense, the only wrinkle is the year off. NYCFC doesn’t start play for another year, but for a man who went straight from playing to coaching, the year off may be plus. We saw Pep Guardiola, 41 when he left Barcelona, spend a year in New York recharging before taking on his new challenge. While Kreis won’t be completely off (presumably, he’ll be helping the franchise prepare for Day 1), he’ll be able to recharge.

How many of us get that kind of opportunity, to step away for a year and regroup? Better yet, how many of us could use it?

It’s a terrible situation for Real Salt Lake, for whom NYCFC wasn’t even on the landscape when they offered Kreis a new deal in January. Since then, a team that’s supposed to be rebuilding stayed a contender, and a new, attractive option has walked into the room. Kreis has gotten to know new owner Dell Loy Hansen, and the team’s new offer reflects the team’s desire to keep somebody who’s become iconic, but now, the situation is beyond RSL’s control.

There’s the growing feeling that Kreis will go, and there’s little RSL can do about it. Who knows if getting him signed to a contract extension in January would have done anything but put them in a position to get compensation. The NYCFC job is just that unique, and for somebody like Jason Kreis, it’s probably an opportunity too good to pass up.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

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It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

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Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.

Uruguay tops Russia & Group A with perfect record

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The host nation looked strong in its opening two matches, but they ran into a far superior side on Monday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Uruguay finished atop Group A with a 3-0 win over Russia in Samara, behind goals from Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and an own goal from Russia’s Denis Cheryshev.

With the victory, the South Americans win Group A with nine points, while Russia finishes runners’ up with six points.

Suarez gave the Uruguayans the lead after just 10 minutes, when the Barcelona man struck via a free kick on the edge of the penalty area.

The goal for Suarez is his second of the World Cup, which leads Uruguay.

The lead was quickly doubled in the 23rd minute, when Diego Laxalt unleashed a shot from distance that took a wicked deflection and went beyond goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Laxalt’s effort hit Russia attacker Denis Cheryshev before gliding towards the near post for the own goal.

The fortunes for Russia just got worse as the first half wore on, and the hosts were reduced to 10 men just beyond the hour mark when Igor Smolnikov was sent off after picking up his second yellow card.

Meanwhile, it had been a disappointing start to the World Cup for Edinson Cavani, but the PSG man finally got a goal for his country in the late stages of the match to extend the lead to 3-0.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

Uruguay will face the runner up in Group B, while Russia will await the Group B winner in the Round of 16.

El Tri star Lozano staying focusing amid Barcelona rumors

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Hirving “Chucky” Lozano was a player everyone needed to pay attention to heading into the 2018 World Cup, and through two matches, the El Tri star has been every bit the price of admission for his country.

[ MORE: Group scenarios heading into the final group stage matches ]

Mexico sits atop Group F with six points at the moment, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to Lozano’s endless motor and creative attacking vision when he finds space down the wing.

The PSV Eindhoven attacker has been linked with various big clubs, including La Liga giants Barcelona, but that hasn’t halted Lozano’s pursuit of guiding Mexico to an unprecedented run at the World Cup.

“The important thing is to focus on the next [Mexico] game, do as well as possible and go step by step,” Lozano said.

Despite winning their first two games, El Tri needs at least a point in its final Group F match to ensure qualification without any complications.

Mexico will take on Sweden on Wednesday, as Juan Carlos Osorio’s side aims to remain perfect in the group stage.

Meanwhile, Andres Guardado — who has been a mainstay of the Mexican national team for years — only confirmed the work ethic of his teammate and hopes that a dream move becomes a reality for Lozano in the near future.

“It makes me very proud to say he is a kid that is very centered, despite everything he is going through,” said Guardado after Saturday’s 2-1 win over South Korea. “He is conscious that he has to continue like he’s not achieved anything.”

“He’s the same kid I met the first time he came with us,” continued Guardado. “Hopefully he stays like that and the rumors about a possible transfer to a big team become reality. It would be marvelous, he’s a great teammate.”