Jason Kreis, the man who helped turn Real Salt Lake into one of MLS's best clubs, is taking over as the first manager of New York City Football Club. Kreis' contract with RSL expired after Saturday's MLS Cup, which RSL lost in penalty kicks, and after a summer of rumors that he would become the expansion team's manager, he has taken the job at the helm of the league's next glamour club.
NYCFC will not begin play until 2015, when they are expected to play at Yankee Stadium until a new stadium is built. Owned by Manchester City and the New York Yankees, the club will enter MLS to much fanfare and a considerable bank account. Now, they will also do so with one of the league's best managers.
Kreis retired as a player in 2007 and immediately took over as RSL manager. The club was one of the league's worst, struggling to get off the ground after entering the league in 2005, but turned things around quickly after Kreis' hire. Along with general manager Garth Lagerwey, RSL overhauled the team, from the way it operates to the attitude and players.
In Kreis' first full season as manager, he led RSL to their first playoff appearance and the following year, he won MLS Cup, becoming the youngest manager to capture the league crown. An appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League came the next season, but his best coaching job may have come in 2013. The club jettisoned part of its core prior to the season, retaining a handful of key players and elevating other younger players into prominent roles and yet they still thrived, advancing to MLS Cup.
If Kreis isn't the best manager in MLS, he's darn close so it is no surprise that ambitious NYCFC targeted and landed him. Now he's being charged with building another club, this time from scratch. He'll have almost unlimited resources, at least by MLS standards, and also all of 2014 to build before they begin play the follow year, but also the biggest spotlight after six years in relative Salt Lake obscurity.
NYCFC was supposed to usher in a new era for MLS and it just might. It certainly is for Kreis and now, manager-less RSL.