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Who Replaces Kreis?

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Kreis is gone. It's time to take a look at whom might replace him.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

From every indication, New York City want to move quickly on finding a replacement for Jason Kreis. Whilst I disagree strongly with their decision, better that they do it now rather than in the middle of the season. Having a new coach in place for the entire MLS offseason gives that person a shot at shaping the team in their own fashion.

With that in mind, let's take a look at potential replacements for Kreis, in decreasing order of likelihood.

Patrick Vieira

Vieira is the current head of Manchester City's Elite Development Squad. A one-time Premier league legend with Arsenal and Manchester City, Vieira's earned plaudits for his stewardship of City's youth program. He was linked to Newcastle United's vacancy, so clearly people think he can manage at a high level.

Pro: Knows City's youth system better than anyone else. If City's looking for someone who buys fully into whatever philosophy Ferran Sorian and Txiki Begiristain are trying to inculcate into the club, no one fits that bill better than Vieira. Having him manage New York City presumably is a good way of finding out if he's ready for the jump to senior-level management. Players like Villa, Lampard, & Pirlo will respect a fellow legend in a way they didn't respect Kreis.

Con: Has no senior-level management experience at all. Tim Sherwood's tenure at Spurs and Aston Villa demonstrates that success at the youth level doesn't translate to the senior level. More importantly: Vieira has no experience in the Americas, let alone MLS. As I've written before, to build a winning roster in the league, you need familiarity with both the league's roster rules and the player pool. Without a front office that has that, how will Vieira succeed? Finally, will someone like Pirlo respect Vieira as a coach, particularly if he's struggling? It's one thing to respect someone as a colleague, quite another to respect them as a superior. And we haven't even gotten to the inevitable "Man City USA" vibe that Vieira's appointment would create.

Fabio Capello

One of the sport's coaching legends. In 16 seasons as a club manager, Capello won nine titles with Juventus, Milan, Roma, and Real Madrid. Winner of the 1994 Champions League with Milan, Capello has also managed England and Russia.

Pro: Capello is a "winner" -- the kind of coach who only coaches at the highest levels. Oh, you want someone to shore up the Blues' defense? Then you want Capello, whose pragmatic, defense-first style of play is designed to shut opposing teams down. Plus, his arrival in MLS would be even more proof of the league's fast climb in international regard.

Con: Like Vieira, has no knowledge of the league. Also, at 69, how involved can you expect Capello to be in the day-to-day work of building an MLS winner and scouting MLS opponents? Put another way: is Capello actually interested in coaching in MLS? Or is he more interested in one last payday from CFG? Word has it that he's angling for the Chelsea job if Jose Mourinho gets sacked. If another high-profile opening beckons, will he stay in New York, or leave?

Sigi Schmid

Schimd is an American coaching legend. At UCLA, his Bruins teams had a phenomenal record of 322 wins, 63 losses, and 33 draws between 1980 and 1999. He then left the college ranks to take over the LA Galaxy in 1999, where he won the Open Cup in 2001 and a domestic double in 2002. After LA, Schimd managed Columbus, which he led to another domestic double in 2008. Finally, with Seattle, Schmid has won four Open Cups and a Supporters' Shield.

Pro: Want to win in MLS? No other coach has won more MLS games than Schmid, with 200 victories. Want someone to spotlight young talent? Again, Schmid is your man, with a track record of identifying and nurturing young talent that's second to none. Want a defensively sound team? Schmid's teams are noted for their defensive capability. Finally, Schmid is the last American coach to win a CONCACAF Champions title - in 2000, with the LA Galaxy.

Con: Schmid's Seattle teams haven't won a MLS Cup yet, despite some pretty significant roster additions. More importantly: Schmid had to take some time off this season to address real, but unspecified, health concerns. Would he be up to the rigours of managing yet another expansion team? Finally, is CFG looking for someone who can win in MLS? Or are they looking for someone who buys fully into their philosophy? Hard to imagine that Schmid would buy into City more than Kreis did, especially after spending a year there.

Carlo Ancelotti

Like Capello, Ancelotti is a European coaching legend. Over 20 years, Ancelotti's managed teams like Milan, Juventus, Real Madrid, Paris-St. Germain, and Chelsea. If anything, Ancelotti's got a more glittering career than Capello - 3 European Cups, 2 Club World Cups, 3 UEFA Super Cups, and we haven't gotten to his league performances. Ancelotti and Bob Paisley of Liverpool are the only managers in history to have won the European Cup three times, and Ancelotti did it with two different clubs a decade apart.

Pro: He wins; his career record as a coach is 565 wins, 177 losses, and 228 draws. He's one of the most respected managers of all time. He's managed both Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard, so two of the Blues' DPs know what to expect from him. From a tactical perspective, Ancelotti is extremely flexible, choosing to fit his system to the players he has, rather than forcing players to fit into his system. If anyone can figure out how to make New York City's roster work from a tactical, on-field perspective, it's Ancelotti.

Con: Same as Capello -- does he really want to coach in MLS? Unlike Capello, Ancelotti has ties to North America; his wife is from Vancouver, and he's spending lots of time there after a tumultuous tenure in Madrid. He doesn't know the league at all, so he'll need a front office staff who does to backstop him -- which New York City doesn't have. Plus, he's reputedly taking time off from managing in order to recover physically; is he ready to get back into managing?

The Field

In talking to fans prior to Kreis' sacking, many expressed the desire for him to be replaced by either Bruce Arena or Bob Bradley. Neither is an option for CFG. Arena is essentially MLS' version of Sir Alex Ferguson with the Galaxy. He's not leaving for a position with much less power. Bradley, meanwhile, is focused on managing in Europe; he's led Norway's Stabæk to Europa League qualification, and is currently in talks with other European clubs.

Beyond Bradley and Arena, there aren't many options. No other coaches in MLS have the cachet that Kreis had; after seeing his experience with CFG, most would likely steer clear. Kreis reportedly had "final say" on all signings; that didn't seem to do him much good. Beyond Capello and Ancelotti, no other European coaches have been linked to the New York City opening.

Prediction

In all likelihood, it's going to be Patrick Vieira.

In their statement announcing Kreis' sacking, outgoing club President Tom Glick said that "the club is committed to ensuring that a suitable candidate is in place in good time to prepare for the 2016 season". With the Blues' playing the Puerto Rican national team in December, plus a full MLS off-season ahead, all signs point to sooner rather than later for New York City to have a replacement in place. No other candidate fits the bill for what CFG is looking for than Vieira.

Will he succeed? That's a far harder question to answer. The reality is that we won't know until the season's well underway. At a minimum, given the club's own stated reasons for firing Kreis, Vieira would have to lead New York City to the playoffs next season. Anything less, and CFG is going to be rightfully criticized for having a double standard.

Not that it matters; CFG has repeatedly shown themselves to be impervious to what New York City fans might want or desire. Vieira's appointment would simply be a brutal ratification of what so many people warned CFG would do with New York City -- treat it as a finishing ground for Manchester City, rather than as a club in its own right, capable of operating independently and, if needed, at cross purposes with Manchester City.

CFG might say that they're committed to winning, but the fact is that the majority of their roster-building decisions whilst Kreis managed the team made it harder, not easier, for New York City to win. Appointing a youth coach with no senior-team experience and with no knowledge of the competitive environment is most decidedly not a move that's conducive to winning in MLS in the short term, let alone the medium- or long-term; but it is clearly within the scope of treating New York City as a finishing ground for Manchester City.

If New York City fans had any doubt that CFG sees New York City as solely a "B-squad" for Manchester City, Kreis' likely replacement by Manchester City's youth coach should remove it.