Jason Kreis

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U.S. U-23s have talent, experience to exorcise Olympic qualifying demons

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Let’s begin here: If the United States fails to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in men’s soccer, it should probably abandon the U-23 program.

That’s pretty haughty considering the Yanks have failed to qualify in three of the last four tournaments including the 2012 Games in the United Kingdom and 2016 edition in Brazil, but consider the talent on show for this March’s friendlies against Egypt and the Netherlands in Spain.

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There are Bundesliga upstarts Josh Sargent and Haji Wright, not to mention Celtic’s Tim Weah. Chicago Fire midfielder Djordje Mihailovic is in the fold, as are defenders Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City), and Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson.

And, oh yeah, they’ll get to add three Over-23 players while also potentially including several eligible players currently with the U-20s, full USMNT, or not called into March camp (Jonathan Lewis, Erik Palmer-Brown, Jonathan Amon, Luca de Torre). Even if the opposite happens and guys make the full USMNT or get injured, there’s depth here and plenty of it.

There have always been names when the Yanks have failed in qualifying, but hardly these degrees of depth and experience. In 2016 qualifying, Matt Miazga, Wil Trapp, and Emerson Hyndman were on the squad which couldn’t get the job done. 2012 saw Joe Gyau, Terrence Boyd, and Bill Hamid.

But this group could be special, favored not just to qualify but to rival others for a spot on the podium. The hiring of longtime MLS boss Jason Kreis to oversee the group is another good decision, and he’ll have this crop of players (and more) from which to select his lineups.

Goalkeepers: Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha Berlin), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose)

Defenders: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City), Marco Farfan (Portland Timbers), Jack Maher (Indiana University), Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United), Donovan Pines (DC United), Lucas Pos (Lausanne), Antonee Robinson (Wigan), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United)

Midfielders: Derrick Jones (Philadelphia), Cameron Lindley (Orlando City), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago), Keaton Parks (NYCFC), Eryk Williamson (Portland), Jackson Yueill (San Jose)

Forward: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland), Josh Perez (LAFC), Emmanuel Sabbi (Hobro), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Tim Weah (Celtic), Haji Wright (Schalke).

Jason Kreis hired as United States U-23 head coach

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The United States youth national team announced on Tuesday that it has hired Jason Kreis as head coach, with the former Major League Soccer boss taking charge ahead of the run towards qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.

Considered a candidate for the senior national team job before Gregg Berhalter was hired, Kreis spent 11 years as a head coach in MLS in charge of Real Salt Lake, NYCFC, and Orlando City.

“Jason’s qualities and experience made him stand out as the best candidate to lead our U-23 Men’s National Team in this important cycle towards the 2020 Olympics,” said USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart. “The U-23s are a significant part of our program, and Jason is an experienced head coach with significant success both in league and Concacaf competitions. His knowledge of the player pool is impressive, and we are confident in his ability to implement the style of play we are building with the senior MNT and throughout our national teams. We appreciate the willingness of Inter Miami CF to allow us the opportunity to take advantage of Jason’s abilities to guide this group.”

According to ESPN soccer journalist Doug McIntyre, Kreis was not Stewart’s first choice for the position, but did not mention who was.

Kreis will take charge with the team ramping up its preparation for Olympic qualification. He has already selected a squad for training camp this week in Spain, with friendlies against Egypt and the Netherlands to come on March 22 and 24. The tournament to decide CONCACAF qualifiers will take place in October. The United States has not made an Olympics since 2008.

The U-23 squad for training camp this week features Josh Sargent, Timothy Weah, Antonee Robinson, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Djordje Mihailovic.

Report: Orlando pursuing Scolari to become club’s third manager

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Orlando City was out to a hot start in 2018, before six straight defeats cost Jason Kreis his job with the Eastern Conference side.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan talks El Tri support, USMNT and much more ]

The Lions must now turn to a third manager in their fourth MLS season, following the departure of the veteran head coach.

ESPN’s Taylor Twellman reported on Saturday that the Lions are prepared to turn to a Brazilian, and specifically have an eye on former Brazil manager Luis Felipe Scolari.

The 69-year-old is currently out of coaching, after last holding a position in the Chinese Super League with Guangzhou Evergrande in 2017.

Scolari guided Evergrande to three straight league titles in the Chinese first division, however, opted not to renew his contract.

Orlando remains sixth in the East through 15 matches, however, the club has begun to lose ground on the conference’s top five teams after their dip in form.

Orlando City parts ways with Jason Kreis

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Jason Kreis has been fired by Orlando City SC, and Bobby Murphy will take control of the team while it undergoes a coaching search.

The former USMNT player led Real Salt Lake from 2007-13, but has struggled with expansion sides New York City SC and now OCSC.

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Orlando is in the Eastern Conference’s sixth spot with a 6W-8L-1T record, and had won just 21 of its 64 games under Kreis. From OrlandoCitySC.com:

“This is a very difficult decision to take, but sometimes in sports we must make tough decisions with the best future of the organization in mind,” Orlando City SC CEO Alex Leitão said. “I have enormous respect for Jason and the work his team did in Orlando. He arrived in a difficult moment and is leaving with a legacy of respect and professionalism. Now is the time to look forward, keep our heads high and continue pushing toward the many goals we set this season.”

Orlando City sign defender Sane from Werder Bremen

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After making a number of moves to improve its attack this offseason, Orlando City SC is now splashing the cash to improve its backline.

The club announced on Tuesday the signing of veteran centerback Lamine Sane from Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on a permanent deal. It appears that with less than six months left on his contract and Sane not in Werder Bremen manager Florian Kohfeldt’s plans, he was allowed to leave on a free transfer.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

“Lamine will significantly strengthen our back line,” Orlando City general manager Niki Budalic said in a statement. “He brings tremendous experience at the highest levels of European football and we believe he will fit right in with what we’re trying to build in Orlando.”

Sane started 27 times for Werder Bremen during a struggling 2016-2017 season, but had made just 11 appearances this season for the Bundesliga side. He’s also made 25 caps for Senegal, but the French-born defender hasn’t appeared for them since 2015. Perhaps a good start to the season in MLS could get him a surprise spot in the World Cup squad.

The 30-year-old joins a rebuilt starting lineup featuring other veterans as Orlando City looks to win in the near term, after three straight seasons of missing the playoffs.

While the team lost Cyle Larin and Kaka in the offseason, Jason Kreis and co. brought in Dom Dwyer late in the 2017 season, Justin Meram, Josue Colman, Uri Rosell and Sacha Kljestan in the offseason.  Along with a couple of new outside backs, Sane is the first signing to shore up the leaky middle of the park for Orlando, one that the club’s fans hope will lead Orlando City to a top-six finish in the Eastern Conference in the least in 2018.