It's official. New York City FC have fired Jason Kreis after one season as the team's head coach.
Here's the meat of the club's statement on his firing:
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. (emphasis added).
Left unsaid? That "the Board" basically blew up the club's first season when Manuel Pellegrini, CFG, and Frank Lampard decided that he'd be better off playing, then warming the bench, at Manchester City than doing what David Villa did, which is training and playing with New York City from the start.
Or that signing players like Mix Diskerud, Adam Nemec, Javier Calle, Andres Mendoza, Jefferson Mena, or Andoni Iraola wasn't perhaps the best way to build a roster.
Or that perhaps trying to shoehorn Andrea Pirlo -- whom Kreis clearly didn't want to sign, for reasons that became fairly obvious -- with Frank Lampard in what became MLS Most Porous Midfield™ wasn't exactly a way to ensure a playoff spot.
Like so many other statements by CFG, this one is a masterpiece of deflection of responsibility, right up there with their statement that Frank Lampard hadn't, in fact, signed with New York City. If you're looking for a summary, here it is:
It's particularly hilarious that it's Tom freakin' Glick issuing this missive, considering that he's not going to be around; he's returning to Manchester City. As far as we know, Reyna's sticking around, but that should provide small comfort, considering he doesn't know the league, and no one is clear on what his role in the team is, if any.
I'm not worried about Kreis; there's about six or seven teams that were hoping that New York City would, in fact, be this dumb and sack him. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up in Philadelphia, or Seattle, or Chicago. Anywhere he goes, he's likely to do well.
But what about their commitment to winning? As in:
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.
...there was not enough evidence of the dynamics required to improve the performance of the team for the next season and beyond.
What about it? That's a meaningless statement, at least right now. That's like saying, "I have a commitment to losing 50 pounds," then going to McDonalds and pounding three Big Macs, a supersized Coke, and a 20-piece Chicken McNugget meal. The words are nice, but it's the actions that matter.
That's what CFG is saying in their statement.
Winning in MLS is hard. I suppose that setting the playoffs as an appropriate target was fine. But the lack of acknowledgement of the club's ownership in how hard they made achieving that target for Kreis through their actions, big and small, is well-nigh infuriating. To then sack the guy after hobbling him nearly his entire tenure is mind-boggling. They really shouldn't have hired him in the first place.
The idea that any coach is going to come in here and lead New York City to the playoffs is sheer fantasy. Here's why.
This roster is deeply, fundamentally flawed in some serious ways, which we'll explore in the days and weeks to come. This isn't going to be something that's fixed simply by parachuting a coach in. Whomever takes over from Kreis needs to know MLS. They need to know how they can build a winning roster in this league. That requires a deep knowledge of MLS' roster rules and a deep knowledge of the available player pool.
By and large, foreign coaches lack that knowledge. Hence their abysmal performance in the league since its inception.
Now, it's entirely possible that CFG hires a coach that's familiar with MLS; Shep Messing mused earlier last month that Sigi Schmid, currently coaching Seattle, would take over for Kreis. Somehow, though, I'm dubious about that. Why hire someone like Schmid if you've got Kreis?
No, it's much more likely that CFG are hiring someone with no knowledge of the league. If that's the case, New York City fans should brace themselves for a rough next few years, as CFG proceeds to learn the same old lessons that everyone else in MLS has learned the hard way.
I'd like to see New York City be successful. Nothing would make me happier. But it's not going to happen this way. We've got 20 years of evidence to support this. Might be an idea for Ferran Soriano to actually humble himself to learn.