[MLS SPOTLIGHT]Jason Kreis is headed to New York. After nine seasons at Real Salt Lake -- the last six and half as head coach -- he told his players at a dinner he hosted at his house Tuesday night that he was leaving to take the head coaching job at New York City FC, which will begin play in MLS in 2015.
[NYCFC STADIUM UPDATE:The New York Post reported Tuesday night that NYCFC was “very, very close” on a deal for a 28,000-seat stadium in The Bronx just south of Yankee Stadium. The price tag: $400 million. The opening: 2018 or 2019, meaning NYC would be in Yankee Stadium for several years.]
Kreis will take the job in January when he will first travel to England to spend time at English Premier League club Manchester City, which along with the New York Yankees was awarded MLS's 20th franchise in May. He will work with City manager Manuel Pellegrini, its director of football Txiki Begiristain, and former French starPatrick Vieira, who handles its academy program.
“I am looking forward to making my contribution to New York City FC from the very outset," Kreis said in a statement. "The opportunity to develop the first professional club based in New York City was impossible to pass up as was the chance to immerse myself in the football operations in Manchester, observing some of the leading figures in European football. There will be a lot to do before our inaugural season in 2015, but I’m confident that with the support teams in the City organization, we will be well placed to hit the ground running."
The move, which was not unexpected, came three days after RSL's shootout loss to Sporting Kansas City in MLS Cup 2013. Kreis' contract ended after the 2013 MLS season. RSL expects to have a replacement for Kreis within 10 days.
"I'd like to thank Jason for a remarkably successful run during his nine years with Real Salt Lake as both a player and as a head coach," said RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen, who assumed full ownership of the club in January 2013, in a statement. "Jason obviously leaves the Utah soccer scene significantly better than he found it, building the competitive foundation of one of Major League Soccer's elite organizations. We will continue to move forward -- quickly -- with the 'Team is the Star' ethos that he and our General Manager Garth Lagerwey implemented back in 2007."
Kreis, the first RSL signing, from FC Dallas in November 2004, served as a player for two and a half seasons before he retired and replaced John Ellinger as head coach in May 2007.
Within a year, Kreis had RSL in the Western Conference final and a year later it won MLS Cup 2009.
Real Salt Lake became the first MLS to reach the final of the Concacaf Champions league in 2012 and lost to D.C. United in the final of the 2013 U.S. Open Cup.
Kreis along with fellow Duke alum Lagerwey built RSL into one of the most exciting MLS clubs, a model for how to develop an exciting team with the framework of MLS's salary structure.
Real Salt Lake made the MLS playoffs in each of Kreis' six full years in charge. Only Dominic Kinnear at Houston among active coaches had been with the same team longer than Kreis, who is 40.
After an early exit in the 2012 playoffs, RSL undertook a makeover of its roster but came back to finish second in MLS and the U.S. Open Cup.