Did Jason Kreis Ever Have a Chance?

By Paul Gardner

I shall, until I see convincing evidence to the contrary, regard Jason Kreis not as a failed coach, but as a convenient scapegoat.

The ridiculously named NYCFC has fired him, has issued the usual slick, “this hurts us more than you realize,” press release. Thank you NYCFC, we have seen this type of thing before, you know. Quite often, as it happens.

Anyway, not to waste tears and indignation, the move was not unexpected. A shadow had been hanging over Kreis for some time now. A shadow composed mainly of Frank Lampard, with a significant contribution from Andreas Pirlo. Two highly experienced European players. What had Kreis to offer against that sort of background, once things started to go wrong?

Considering that Kreis had never played or coached outside the USA, not very much. His position was not strong -- at least not strong to the ManCity Euros who were his bosses. Yes, they hired him. But did they then find plenty of occasions to offer advice and even instructions about his job? The betting here is that they did. If they didn’t, then Kreis was at the center of a unique soccer situation: one in which the know-everything Europeans were prepared to allow a know-not-much American to have his way.

I have been on the fringes of, sometimes at the center of, quite a few of these episodes. Because I am European-born, I am often taken by the Europeans to be “one of them,” so they are likely to open up to me. I have learned a lot about European attitudes to American soccer personalities. It is rarely anything to feel happy about. At best it is an arrogant “what the hell do they know?” attitude. At worst it is an overt ridiculing that Americans can ever be considered to know anything about soccer.

That hostility cannot help matters when it is exercised on situations within the USA. Kreis knows the American scene, he knows American players -- all that is a given. But he also showed at Real Salt Lake that he could handle top foreign talent. He quickly built RSL into one of the top teams in MLS -- probably the best, in terms of playing skillful soccer. And he did it by incorporating Latino talent, by building the team around the wonderfully talented Argentine, Javier Morales.

Kreis could not bring Morales to New York with him -- of course RSL was not about to release him -- but then comes the part that is difficult to understand. Why did Kreis not head south to find a new Morales? Why were far from convincing names like Nemec and Brovsky and Diskerud and Williams and Jacobson turning up on the NYC roster?

The early results were not good. But what on earth were those ManCity Euros expecting? This is an expansion team, for Kreis’s sake. Do they have any experience of such a phenomenon? No, they don’t. You can feel the arrogance beginning to seep in. They’re European, they’re rich, they know everything about soccer -- how on earth can it be that their team isn’t up at the top end of an American standings?

Then came the almost laughably expected. Of course, when you deal with an English club, you’re going to get English players. Make way for Frank Lampard. Jason’s choice? I doubt it. But even that went wrong -- and this time there could be no blaming Kreis.

His sudden appearance in ManCity colors, the obvious fact that the NYC fans had been misled -- all of that called for an admission of guilt and an apology from the owners. I must have missed that part of it. The part I didn’t miss was the effect the Lampard saga -- he’s coming, he’s not coming, well he’s coming soon, then not as soon as you thought, and so on -- had on Kreis’ attempts to build a team.

From the start Lampard was billed as a world super star, something he never was. The English always over-rate their top players. Then there was Andrea Pirlo, with more claim to international brilliance. A Kreis choice? Who knows. Anyway, he was also a player who would not be arriving just yet.

While the great Lampard/Pirlo waiting game played itself out, Kreis changed his lineup for almost every game. Players -- including the uniquely ineffective Adam Nemec -- disappeared. Some players -- rather ordinary, really, popped up from the ManCity reserve level. The results -- as you might expect from such an unsettled operation -- were not great.

Lampard arrived, got injured. When he did play, in August, some five months into the season, he added little. Same for Pirlo. Kreis, at last frustrated into words, questioned the commitment of some of the players. He sounded embattled. He got a public response to that ... from Lampard, defending the players. Why would Lampard feel the need to defend himself? Actually I don’t need to ask that question. I have my own opinion, as I had been watching the team -- with and without Lampard -- closely.

So NYC did not make the playoffs. Neither, as it happens, did the other 2015 expansion club, Orlando. So what’s the big deal here? I would suggest that European arrogance is the big deal.

That is what has ushered Kreis out of the door at Yankee Stadium, probably seen as just another American soccer expert who couldn’t cope with the big time. The European arrogance will no doubt continue. So look out for a European coach to be next up at Yankee Stadium. Probably with some sort of pedigree, probably British. And things will not go well. They did not go well up in Toronto. Nor did they go well just across the river in New Jersey for the old MetroStars -- their foreign coaches even included a former World Cup winner.

I would very much like to be completely wrong on all those predictions. I hope I am. In the meantime, any American who might get approached for the NYCFC job should take a hard look at who exactly is in charge of player signings there.

Jason Kreis should not be out of work for too long. There are certainly some MLS clubs that could use his services. And there is also a national team, currently being mismanaged by yet another arrogant European, that would be greatly improved by a Kreis takeover.

19 comments about "Did Jason Kreis Ever Have a Chance? ".
  1. Lou vulovich, November 2, 2015 at 10:43 p.m.

    Jason Kreis was a very good player and has shown that he can coach. One year is not nearly enough for him to show what he can do with NYFC, but I think the management will regret the decision to fire him. Now you can expect an over the hill, overrated European coach. Kreisler will find another MLS job and will prove to be successful for a long time.

  2. Lou vulovich, November 2, 2015 at 10:44 p.m.


  3. Lonaka K, November 3, 2015 at 3:41 a.m.

    I am not sunrises that this has finally come to a head, i.e. an over the hill European player NOT respecting a coach like Kreis who has no International experience either as a player or coach. Also I'm sure his age has something to do with it. He is close in age to these over the hill players and if they think he has little soccer IQ they will not respect him.

  4. Joe Linzner, November 3, 2015 at 8:13 a.m.

    I too am foreign born and am accused of being arrogant... however there is a difference in how an American sees the game and how a European sees the game, One sees Xs & O, while the other is watching a moving chess game and expects every player to contribute. I am sorry if Mr. Gardner sees a deeper understanding of the game as arrogance but then again how can anyone see things better than our vaunted American superiority. It is sad that we (Americans) seem hell bent on modeling our soccer on the English game where frantic and often senseless flitting back and forth by big, tall and cumbersome but "athletic" players is stressed in favor of technical, nimble and quick-thinking "true" athlete. One just has to look at our developing youth clubs and their static approach to the game being taught by American coaches. Oh I forgot to mention there is this : I do have a question is calling an entire group of people ARROGANT not explicit evidence of arrogance. I agree that Mr. Kreis is and will be an exceptional American Coach and he was saddled with an impossible task.

  5. Miguel Dedo replied, November 3, 2015 at 11:47 a.m.

    This letter is evidence of such arrogance.

  6. Eric Mills, November 3, 2015 at 8:21 a.m.

    I don't often agree with Mr. Gardner, but in this case, I think he absolutely nailed it.

  7. john davies, November 3, 2015 at 8:41 a.m.

    This all is irrelevant Mr Gardner as a Column to write and the owners of the team have a business to run, not a sports team, there are no sports teams anymore they are small businesses. They are not worried about the individual, like big business they will get rid of you if you don't perform now, tomorrow for them is no good, they are in a business where now is all that matters and that means results, and please do you think they care one iota what a writer thinks, in most cases they have more money than God, so they do what THEY want, and to think in other terms is naive.

  8. Bobby Bluntz, November 3, 2015 at 8:53 a.m.

    Joe Linzner, you just made the author's point with your post. Believe it or not, some American born coaches now, especially around the age of Kreis, Porter, etc. have known nothing but soccer their entire lives. They've played, watched, trained at high levels and have the exact understanding that you claim to have by birth right. The arrogance to think you can be successful trotting out 70 years worth at CM going at 3/4 speed in a league that is filled with young athletic players, almost to a fault, is bordering on insanity. All managers see X's and O's along with a "moving chess game". It's their job and it's the same thing. You prepare and then go into a match with a plan and then make adjustments as the chess match unfurls. That's not unique to foreign born managers. Many american born observes even, believe it or not, are now as tuned into the beautiful game as you think you are, and have been their entire lives.

  9. David V, November 3, 2015 at 10:52 a.m.

    JOE - GREAT COMMENTS (Bobby, not so good :-( )... I really think the word European shouldn't be used, it should be "English" and then maybe Gardner's comments are applicable. Pirlo (World Cup winner, Champions League final this year) - too long of a European season before he got here, Lampard - also too long of a season but an old washed up Englishman who has never been world class (whoever made the point about Englishman overrating themselves is spot on-it's axiomatic - listen to their ignorant comments when they broadcast games and tell you all the details about that guy who played in a 4th division reject British team, while you have a Spaniard right next to him who has won every major trophy on the planet, or the Dutchman who - you get the point, or how someone who won a world cup and euro cup spending their youth in Barca, took a hiatus @ ManU for a year and half, then returns to Barca and wins everything, more than once, and wins everything for his national team is described as the "former ManU man" as if that was the significant part of the career of that player... most soccer people in the US who worship EPL/England players need to read "The Emperor's New Clothes"... certainly this cast of characters who David Villa had to deal with for months were like high school players-whose fault that is, I don't know, but they didn't smarten up and got some players like Andoni Iraola, Angelino as quality pedestrian players along the way. You may argue about EPL (which isn't rated the top league in the world, but has some great players in it, but they AREN'T English... England got lucky on home soil in 1966, nearly 50 years ago, what have English players done since then? Wise up England worshippers ... Emperor's new clothes. The real problem for NYCFC started with a guy named Luis Enrique (huh?), yeah that Luis Enrique, the guy who was both a Real Madrid and Barcelona player, the former Spain international... he convinced the best, but aging, midfielder of the last generation, one-half of the best midfield pair in history, and one-third the best midfield trio in history, to stay another year at Barcelona... he gave up coming to MLS and playing with his countries top goal scorer in history, to win another Champions League. And you can also blame the Al-Sadd guys because they paid Xavi to go to Qatar insted of NYC-I guess when your immediate and extended family are set for life, you tend to decide to play in the heat. By the way, last time I looked, Claudio Reyna wasn't an Englishman.

  10. R2 Dad, November 3, 2015 at 11:13 a.m.

    There are no victims here. No one put a weapon to Kreis' head to move from RSL--it was his poor choice. If anything, we should bemoan the injection of the quick-change-manager mentality brought over from england. MSL tenures last longer than those in England, and that relative stability has served the league well.

  11. Werner Roth, November 3, 2015 at 12:58 p.m.

    Oh Paul, you and your Machiavelian conspiracy theories. Always with the drama.
    Of course Jason Kreis had a chance. Just not the good fortune he needed for a successful season. And yes perhaps caught coaching while American, we shall see when they announce new coach, but by a club with much invested and much to gain in perhaps the major U.S. market with greatest fan, broadcast and player development potential. And they have some competition in the area.
    MLS champions American coaches and NYCFC gave it a shot and now they must produce. Although I'm sure their in it long term their clock is ticking on fan acquisition, media support, stadia development and the other time sensitive issues of their American adventure. Issues not advanced from the bottom or even middle of the table.
    Personally, all else being equal, more can be gotten from a team with an internationally experienced coach than not. I've played for many of both.
    At their best my coaches put themselves, and by extension our team, beyond the possibility of losing a match, much less a season. Detmar Cramer, Phil Woosnam, Gordon Bradley and Jago among them. Yes all foreigners. They did this through earned respect and observable discipline, hard work and preparation.This happens through experience not nationalism.
    And when have you ever been at the center of situations like this Paul, or when have Europeans ever heaitated to give their opinions on American game and attitudes. Just go to any brew pub on match day.
    Keep kicking up the dust Paul,
    Werner Roth
    Los Angeles

  12. Nicholas Concilio replied, November 5, 2015 at 11:02 a.m.

    Thank you, Werner. You are a Cosmos legend.

  13. John Soares, November 3, 2015 at 1:43 p.m.


  14. Paul Levy, November 3, 2015 at 2:23 p.m.

    So, will Manchester City give us Wayne Rooney?

  15. Stanley Scott, November 3, 2015 at 6:46 p.m.

    After wasting good money on a Dallas - NYCFC match this summer, I'm not at all surprised at his dismissal. To be brief, the team lacked cohesion. Disorganized. Players out of position. Pirlo, out of gas. Their best player, IMO, Kwadwo Poku on the bench!! Im NO MLS fan. The level of play is roughly equal to Liga MX, that is to say overwhelmingly mediocre. Kreis should simply have shown better with his squad. In games I viewed, outside of David Villa, they were not playing hard, consistently They lack a holding midfielder, a spot which Dallas handled easily that evening.

  16. Frank Fonte, November 3, 2015 at 9:23 p.m.

    i think jason kreis is a very good american born coach. his rsl teams were fun to watch. i would love to see him come to dc and step in for ben olsen; who has produced dull and boring teams. that are hard to watch. after they loose to red bulls this weekend. which they will. and be out of the playoffs. as usual.

  17. Christopher Tallmadge replied, November 8, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.

    Lose not loose. Another internet commenter bitten by the word that shall not be spelled.

  18. Richard Brown, November 9, 2015 at 8:44 p.m.

    Coaches come and go that's a fact. Can't fire the team so who is left?

    There are cases where coaches and players are kept too long in this country. Jurgen Klinnesman is one.

  19. Footballer Forever, December 28, 2015 at 10:40 p.m.

    Paul, "Get off my lawn, Gardner said: "The ridiculously named NYCFC has fired him". Have you pondered the only ridiculous one is yourself with your Football or Football despise? Do you own stock in freaking eggball leagues? are you a self hating British or are you a snobby American. Football! Football Club, Football players, Footballers. Get a life sour old man! LOL :P

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