It’s probably slightly too early to start speculating potential head coaching hires for Atlanta United FC, but I like to live on the fringe, and I LOVE speculating way too early! Jason Kreis has not been linked to the club in any way (yet), but here's why he'd be perfect for AUFC:
Sounder at Heart suggested Jason Kreis would be a less-than-ideal fit in Seattle. That may or may not be true (they're more of an expert about the Seattle Sounders than someone across the country), but the reasons they and some at Hudson River Blue believe contributed to his untimely demise with NYCFC are exactly the reasons he would succeed in Atlanta.
For the most part, many of those within MLS media point to New York City FC’s ownership, City Football Group, as the primary reason for why Kreis’ tenure ended after their inaugural season. When ownership’s primary focus is not what the product on the field produces, but rather, what the product produces off it, management and coaching staff tend to clash. Lesson to be learn from the soap opera that was NYCFC’s first year: money is the root of this evil.
Kreis is not a bad coach, just go ask Real Salt Lake. If you’re new and just started paying attention to MLS, this past year is in no way an indication of the talent Kreis is as a coach. He simply wasn’t a fit for the organizational scheme imparted on by the Manchester City overlords.
The organizational scheme CFG was hoping to implement doesn’t work in MLS. That obviously falls solely on the incompetence of CFG and not understanding the intricacies of how the league works. A team can't just throw international soccer stars into a group of less-than-average players and expect the team to succeed. In the Premier League, spending money gives you the best chance of winning a league title. In MLS, well, just go look at the two best teams in each conference and see how much money they spent compared to others. (Hint: they were at the bottom of the league in total spending)
The incompetence goes beyond just not knowing the league. Remember, CFG essentially gave Kreis the cushiest paid internship with Manchester City, learning the philosophies of the coaches in Europe, for a longer period of time than he actually spent as coach of NYCFC. They spent all that time, energy and money on Kreis, only to fire him after year one. That system does not work in MLS.
The Atlanta organization is everything CFG is not. If you need proof, simply look at the Atlanta Falcons. Ownership rarely interferes with the day-to-day affairs of the team. With Julio Jones possibly being somewhat of an exception, the front office has rarely forced the coaching staff to make changes or play players, just look at how long the Falcons stuck with Steven Jackson during his time with the Falcons. Finally, if Arthur Blank, Darren Eales and Carlos Bocanegra are students of history, they will avoid the three international star DP system NYCFC desperately wanted to implement. It clearly didn’t work and it was clearly forced upon them by CFG, yet another system that does not work in MLS. (Just ask Toronto FC)
Eales and Bocanegra have constantly said that they want to be competitive in MLS right from the beginning. Every Atlanta United fan would love that, but realistically, it would take a head coach like Kreis to come in, implement his system and, with the help of the front office, find the players that fit his system, not attempting to finagle a system from the players given to him. When a coach is given and forced to play players he didn’t necessarily want (Andrea Pirlo) or clearly can’t make it work on the tiniest field in MLS (Frank Lampard), it all falls on the coach for his inability to work with star players. I just can’t imagine Atlanta United's front office management making the same mistakes NYCFC did in forcing certain players down the coach's throat. When judging Kreis, we have to revert back to his success with RSL to gauge his qualifications.
It’s the success Kreis had with a mid-market team like RSL that makes him so attractive for Atlanta United. If you need a refresher as to his early career, Kreis retired as a player in 2007 and was named head coach immediately after. In 2008, RSL made its first playoff appearance and in 2009 won the MLS Cup. Kreis coached RSL to the playoffs every year after that and added a second MLS Cup appearance in 2013, losing in one of the most dramatic MLS Cup games in MLS history on penalty kicks. It’s safe to say, he knows how to coach in MLS.
The concern now is, would he be willing to take over another expansion team in their inaugural season? Were the pressures and circumstances too much for Kreis the first time? The Mouths of the South podcast (if you haven’t set up an alert for the podcasts, what are you doing with your life? @MOTSPodcast) asked Rafael Noboa y Rivera, managing editor of Hudson River Blue, the SBNation affiliate that covers all things NYCFC, if he thought Kreis would be willing to coach another expansion team:
"I think he would do it again," Noboa y Rivera said.
"He’s not an egotistic type coach…he’s a very egoless coach. But he definitely wants to have a say in how the team is structured and how the team is run," he said.
That opportunity to structure a team was not afforded to him in New York. In Atlanta, he'd be perfect.
Come on down Jason Kreis! I’m more than confident Darren Eales would love a coach like you. Atlanta United would excel with someone who can work within a budget, and with a team built around his system, not the other way around.