With reports circling regarding Jason Kreis being fired as New York City FC’s head coach after just one season in charge and rookie boss Patrick Vieria replacing him, many in Major League Soccer find it hard to believe.
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Sure, Kreis and his coaching staff haven’t enjoyed a stellar season with expansion franchise NYCFC finishing out of the playoffs in year one, but with Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo now having plenty of MLS experience under their belt (which is a whole different world to their time spent playing in Europe over the past two decades), plus the latter two only arriving midway through the season, you have to think better times will arrive in the near future.
A source close to the situation has confirmed to ProSoccerTalk that reports regarding Kreis being fired by NYCFC have come as a total surprise to individuals at the organization but admitted that after a disappointing debut season in MLS, there is plenty to be discussed at the end of the season.
It is believed that Kreis will sit down with NYCFC’s leading officials, such as sporting director Claudio Reyna, club president Tom Glick and chief executive Ferran Sorriano, in the coming weeks after the MLS season is over. The point of that meeting will be a post-season briefing to assess which things went well, which things didn’t, and to plan for the offseason and the 2016 season. Only then will it become clear if Kreis’ time at NYCFC is up.
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For what it’s worth, the City Football Group (CFG), who own NYCFC, implement a similar end of season review at sister club Manchester City after every season which always leads to speculation regarding the hiring or a new manager of firing of the current man in charge. With Vieria currently in charge of Man City’s reserve team, the former Arsenal and French international midfielder has been touted to take plenty of head coaching jobs in the Premier League in the past and it is no secret that he has ambitions to become a head coach somewhere, soon. Linking Vieria with a position at City is not far fetched as CFG would seem to be promoting from within.
New York City FC’s debut season in MLS will come to a close on Sunday as they host the New England Revolution at Yankee Stadium during MLS “Decision Day” with Kreis’ side set to finish in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. You can point to many things for NYCFC not living up to the preseason hype but in truth, it is always tough for an expansion franchise in MLS. The likes of Vancouver, Montreal, Portland and up until recently, Toronto, have all struggled to find their feet and compete with MLS originals from day one. And let’s not forget, NYCFC had to build an entire club from scratch and Kreis was a key cog in making all of that possible. He deserves more time to turn this team into one which challenges for a place in the playoffs and for trophies.
Lessons will have to be learned if things are going to improve but is firing Kreis, the man who built Real Salt Lake into an MLS powerhouse after putting in years of hard work behind-the-scenes, really the right answer?
If you fancy reading more about Kreis’ mission as NYCFC boss, here’s our extensive Q&A with him from before the season and a longform piece on NYCFC’s preparations as they had high hopes when entering into MLS. Here’s what Kreis said before the season when speaking about the owner of CFG, Sheikh Mansour, showing patience with his head coaches in the past.
“I believe that if we do the right things and show that we have a plan, as we have already really started from a year ago, showing that we have a very set plan and that we are moving things forward in a positive direction. I believe the people here who are in the decision making positions are very soccer savvy,” Kreis said. “They understand that this is probably not going to happen overnight. I believe that we are going to be afforded the opportunity to get it right over a period of time. But the one thing I need to show is that we are moving in the right direction.”
Those hopes and dreams have not been realized but replacing Kreis with a man who has never played or coached in MLS and has never had a head coaching job does seem like a pretty drastic decision to make.