By DAN KARELL
NEW YORK — New York City FC may not have a stadium or any players, but Jason Kreis has guaranteed that he will field a winning team.
The former Real Salt Lake head coach was formally introduced today as NYC FC’s first head coach in franchise history ahead of their inaugural season in 2015 in Major League Soccer. Despite what will be increased media and fan pressure for success due to the backing of Manchester City and the New York Yankees, Kreis believes that he can lead the expansion team to glory during his tenure.
“For me it’s a challenge I look forward to,” Kreis said at a press conference in midtown Manhattan. “When an opportunity like this becomes available it leads to something that you have to take. Of course the expectations are there, the challenges will be there, the pressures are all going to be there.
“We know that we’re expected to win and frankly we will win.”
Kreis’ first moves as a head coach were to hire his former assistant Miles Joseph to the coaching staff and add former Red Bulls performance analyst David Lee. Lee has previous history with Man City, having been recommended to the Red Bulls and former coach Hans Backe by the English Premier League club in 2011.
Those coaching moves may not move the needle, but with the powerful backing the team has, plenty expect to see some high profile stars come to MLS to play for NYC FC. During Kreis’ tenure at RSL, he built a team around team-first players instead of big-name signings.
Even if NYC FC signs a big-name player or two, Kreis expects that the team will sign players based more on their character than their skill on the field.
“I’m quite certain that New York City FC will sign three designated players and I’m also quite certain that those players will be extremely well-vetted, researched, and talked to, to make sure that they’re not only the right player for this team but the right person to fit into (Man) City Football Group’s philosophy,” Kreis said.
“I believe that you’re always talking about the right person that you’re adding. No matter what any person has done (in their career), no matter how many trophies they won or how much money they will make, there is still a character element to that person and it’s important to consider.”
While Kreis, NYC FC director of football Claudio Reyna, Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano, and Man City director of football Txiki Begiristain all pushed the idea that NYC FC would have it’s own identity, separate from Man City, the message at the press conference was clear.
The team’s soccer philosophy comes first before anything else.
“What’s very important is that we want our team to play a certain type of football,” Soriano said. “The order of things is first the philosophy, how we want to play, then we choose a manager that likes the philosophy and is able to execute it, then we play good football, and then we win. We cannot jump ahead of that. We don’t want to win without playing good football.”
One reason in part that Kreis was offered the NYC FC job was his unique philosophy with RSL, and that Reyna, Soriano, and Begiristain thought that he could take their plan and put it into action.
In order to learn more about the expected NYC FC philosophy, Kreis will, starting Jan. 20, spend the rest of the EPL season with his family in Manchester. Kreis confirmed that he would be working with and observing Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini, and the other coaching and non-coaching staff, soaking up as much as he can in order to fulfill the goals set by Soriano and co.
All in all, the opportunity to manage in New York City was a chance that Kreis admits he couldn’t afford to let slip away. After all he built in Salt Lake, Kreis said that he is ready for a new challenge and that if not for his family, he wouldn’t have left RSL. But the 41-year-old head coach kept coming back to a simple word – opportunity – for why he had to take the job.
“The choice to come here at some point became not just a no-brainer, but an opportunity I could not let slip away,” said Kreis. “The opportunity is in front of us, and we fully intend to reach out and take it.”