LEHI, Utah – The announcement of Toronto FC head coach Preki’s dismissal by the club on Tuesday just ahead of the Reds’ match with Real Salt Lake struck a nerve with Jason Kreis.
Real Salt Lake will host Toronto FC and interim coach Nick Dasovic as the teams resume play in Group A of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday.
“I feel very positive about one thing,” Kreis said. “Giving a coach less than a season is frankly, completely unfair. I don’t even understand such decisions. [Former director of soccer Mo Johnston has] been there a long time, so if you feel like a big change or shakeup needs to be made, then fair enough. But to give [Preki] less than a full season to turn the team around is an impossibility.”
Kreis feels as if the timing of the move, coming as it did the day before TFC visit Rio Tinto Stadium, may also have an impact on Real Salt Lake.
“We are going to have no idea what they are going to do tomorrow night, because we don’t know if the assistant that is taking over feels the same about the group as Preki did,” Kreis said.
“He may have a completely different Best XI in his mind. On top of that, will they make a decision now and say either, ‘We’re going to push for Champions League’ or ‘We’re going to push for the playoffs?’ Maybe this coach likes a different shape than Preki did.”
In addition, Kreis’ own experience with playing through the firing of a coach tells him that TFC will not simply roll over when they step out on the pitch. Kreis played for Dallas when both Dave Dir (2000) and Mike Jeffries (2003) were relieved of their coaching duties.
"You got what you’d expect," he said. "You got an emotional group of players that felt they had a brand new opportunity to prove themselves in front of a brand new coach, in what could be a brand new system.”
With three points from their first two matches, RSL will be pressing for a positive result of their own.
“Early on, we’d done some research and we thought nine [points] was the number [needed to advance out of CCL group stages],” Kreis said. “The only question was, there had been years before when one team gets beat up by everybody, and then it may take more than nine points.”