With the news that Jason Kreis is in "advanced discussions" with Orlando City to become their next head coach, eyebrows have been raised in Atlanta in regards to United’s own coaching search.
Jason Kreis has been the top domestic name in the market since he was dismissed from New York City FC at the end of the 2015 season. His success at Real Salt Lake has not been tainted too much from a disappointing inaugural season for NYCFC and the MLS community has been waiting to see where Kreis would land next.
Atlanta was a top choice by many accounts for where Kreis could end up, but nothing has leaked to indicate meetings or serious discussions have taken place. Dominoes are now falling on the MLS coaching list. Houston made the first move, followed by Orlando, and with more to come possibly in Seattle and/or Toronto. Jason Kreis is now a hot commodity.
Orlando has seen a fair bit of turmoil since the end of last season, where front office changes have been made, rumors have surfaced about who is calling the shots, and Adrian Heath was fired. That turmoil has overshadowed large crowds, young talent, and a new stadium on the way. As Tenorio mentioned on the United States of Soccer, Orlando also has an owner that is willing to spend. Will he be willing to cede a bit of control to Kreis in order to bring him to the Sunshine State? That remains to be seen.
"If you’re weighing Atlanta vs. Orlando, on the surface, I would think that Atlanta is a more attractive job because of the ownership, because of the structure that they have in place. When you look at Orlando, there has to be some trepidation about how quickly they’ve been pulling the trigger on some of these moves." - Paul Tenorio on SiriusXM FC’s United States of Soccer, 7/18/16
Many of the same benefits Orlando can offer are also available in Atlanta. United already has a large fan base as seen by their season ticket deposit numbers. The academy is launching this fall with a large number of US youth national team prospects. The stadium and training facility will be world class. However, the same question remains, would Kreis have a large say in player acquisition?
Orlando has more of a blank slate in terms of how players would be brought into the club. The team lacks a general manager at the moment after all of the front office departures. Assistant general manager Niki Budalic has been in place since last season, but ownership is likely currently taking the lead in roster matters. If Orlando hires Kreis, they might be able to build this part of the front office in a way that makes him comfortable.
In Atlanta, it is questionable as to how much influence a coach will have in player acquisition. President Darren Eales, technical director Carlos Bocanegra, and director of soccer operations Paul McDonough hold a great deal of experience and contacts. The fruits of this are already being seen with signings Chris McCann and Kenwyne Jones. It is likely that Orlando would offer Kreis more involvement in acquiring players, primarily due to the lack of a general manager currently.
As Tenorio said, Atlanta might be a more appealing destination on the surface. However, Jason Kreis wields a lot of power at the moment and will likely want to be as influential as possible at his new place of employment. In his case, what he is looking for in a new job might differ from many others.