Jason Kreis - Armchair Analyst
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Armchair Analyst: A word on Jason Kreis, NYCFC and team-building in MLS

Prior to the start of the season, it was agreed with the coaching team that securing of a playoff place was an appropriate target for this year. A win rate of less than one in three games and a points tally which was the second lowest in the league is clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed.

While the challenges of building and integrating a new team are recognized, it was felt by the Board, following a comprehensive review, that there was not enough evidence of the dynamics required to improve the performance of the team for the next season and beyond.

-- From the NYCFC press release announcing the parting of ways with head coach Jason Kreis.

And thus we see the difficulty of roster building for sustained success in MLS -- one of the best arguments for hiring Kreis in the first place.

To sum up: He helped build and had primacy of place in maintaining a team [Real Salt Lake] that made the playoffs for seven straight years, and were a legitimate threat to win titles in about five of them. And he did it all on a (relative) shoestring budget and overall talent deficit while fielding a team that, year-in and year-out, played arguably the most attractive style in MLS. He did this while adding, developing and integrating new and difference-making talent, as well as putting veterans like Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales into position to become, essentially, Hall of Famers.

In hiring Kreis it was assumed that A) NYCFC would let him build a team that's as fundamentally sound and solid on a year-by-year continuum as his great RSL teams were, but that's also B) supercharged by game-breaking superstars.

This is what Bruce Arena did in LA. And even Arena took more than a year to get it all right (I remember a few LA friends calling for his head in early 2009), and even Arena can have an offseason that requires a long, stern look in the mirror.

Kreis, of course, never had Landon Donovan, David Beckham or Robbie Keane-level talent to work with at RSL. And guess who scored the game-winning goals in each of LA's three MLS Cup wins under Arena? Landon Donovan, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.

Arena, by the way, has been eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs four times with the Galaxy. Two of those defeats came against a Kreis-coached team.

NYCFC fans and owners City Football Group provided Kreis with Galaxy-sized superstars -- though I'd point out that being a bigger name on the world stage is no guarantee that you'll be a better MLS player; just compare Keane to Thierry Henry, for example. But we always imagined Kreis would also be provided him with the time necessary to build the solid, consistent foundation to let those guys shine.

The biggest stars, too, need a foundation and a consistent cast of productive players around them in order to be effective. If you doubt that, just take a look at Toronto FC's first eight seasons in MLS. Look at how LA struggled this season after the arrival of Steven Gerrard and Gio Dos Santos, or how the teams dominating in 2015 are doing it without the big-money stars.

A "vast wage bill," as the Daily Mail put it, has never been a guarantee of success in this league.

Pulling the plug on Kreis now could ultimately prove hasty. Time will tell. Those NYCFC fans celebrating his departure may not have really understood one of the reasons he was considered a good hire in the first place. If they're now dying for a recognizable name, a quick-fix artist, or an apprentice manager, I offer only this tried and true cliche: Be careful what you wish for.

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