KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis did not deny it on Thursday: Saturday's MLS Cup final against Sporting Kansas City (4 pm ET on ESPN, UniMas, TSN2/RDS in Canada) could be his final game at the helm of the club he's coached since May 2007.
With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Kreis admitted that he's been carrying the thought with him during every home match since the regular-season finale at Rio Tinto Stadium against Chivas USA on October 23.
"At that time, I thought there was a possibility that that might be the last match that I got to coach for Real Salt Lake," Kreis said at Thursday's MLS Cup press conference. "Then we go into this match and, yes, it might be the last match that I get to coach with this group and I will soak it up for sure – every single moment of it.
"But that decision has yet to be made. It's something that I think I’ve done a pretty decent job at in putting on the back-burner and will continue to do so for another 48 hours."
For several weeks, Kreis has been deflecting rumors of a potential move to another MLS club (he's been linked with head coaching vacancies at the Vancouver Whitecaps and expansion side New York City FC), insisting he'll make his decision in the offseason.
"It’s the same response I’ve had for the last eight weeks … at least two to three months now," Kreis told The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday. "My focus is on this team, it will continue to be on this team and this club and doing everything I can for the next five days. Then after that I’ll go into hiding for three days and try and make a decision."
But if Saturday does turn out to be his last hurrah with Real Salt Lake, Kreis made it clear that despite all the achievements in his six years in charge, the 2013 season will occupy a special place in his heart.
"There’s absolutely zero doubt in my mind that this is the most special year I've ever been a part of whether that's playing soccer or coaching soccer," he said on Thursday. "This has been absolutely fantastic. It’s like a dream come true. I’ve enjoyed almost every moment of it. Of course there are some painful times.
"But to be a part of this group – and I know and consider myself to be a leader of it – more than that, I feel a big part of it. And being part of this group has been extremely special."