Breaking up is hard to do. We’ve all been in that place where you’ve been with someone for years, relying on them for stability and support to get through all aspects of your life. You’re flying high in love.
After a while, you take your partner for granted. You start getting more attention from a different class of suitor than you’re accustomed to. You arrogantly believe that your new level of attractiveness is all your own doing. Then, foolishly thinking you’re upgrading, you leave the person who has held you down for years for someone more attractive. After a few weeks, you realize that the new you was the result of the work your ex put in to make you a better person.
This, in soccer coaching terms, is exactly where New York City FC head man Jason Kreis finds himself.
Nine games into NYCFC’s inaugural season, the Manchester City side-project finds itself with a disappointing 1-5-3 record — good for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Kreis’ quote came after Sunday’s game, in which the (New York) Citizens spent 90 minutes being toyed with by Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins to the tune of a 3-1 home loss at Yankee Stadium. His words are even sadder if you imagine someone playing a slow, dirge version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on the stadium organ.
Prior to joining NYCFC, Kreis was part of a very successful organization at Real Salt Lake. The partnership he formed with then-general manager Garth Lagerwey was lauded as possibly the best coach-executive duo in the league, even if there were debates as to who was the real star of RSL’s staff. Did Kreis’s diamond midfield system turn the club’s lesser-known into all stars, or was Lagerwey the master of finding great talent in corners of the world that most MLS folk had yet to properly explore?
Kreis left RSL and his partnership for the glimmering lights of the biggest market in the country, direct ties to a successful Premier League club, and the piles of money — both in terms of personal salary and the team’s salary cap — that came with it. Though NYCFC’s on-field project is just two months old, it is disappointing by any metric. Frank Lampard is still in England, David Villa has struggled with injury, Mix Diskerud has been competent, but unremarkable. The rest of the roster has yet to provide any hope of producing surprise showcase players.
Sunday’s loss to Seattle was probably the early year’s low point for Kreis. It was a two-goal loss that could have been much worse. It was nationally televised, against a marquee franchise and came a week before NYCFC’s first encounter with Red Bull New York, all more than enough to explain his sad-sac routine after the game.
But the biggest heaping of salt onto his fresh wound is that the new general manager of the Seattle Sounders is none other than the man who quite possibly made him a star – the man who consistently filled his team sheet with superior talent. The man who built the club that brought him the success that lead him to NYCFC in the first place: Garth Lagerwey. Love hurts.