Should he stay or should he go, the questions about Jason Kreis heat up

Yesterday afternoon we found out that MLS’s newest franchise is looking to make Jason Kreis their head coach, to the point that their taskmasters in Manchester City flew him over for a conversation during RSL’s off week a couple weeks ago. You can read that story from Brian Straus (one of the best in the business) on the Sports Illustrated website. The conversation about Jason contract, which expires at the end of the year has been a talking point for many online and in the stands all year, Brian’s article will only fuel the talk to a new feverish pitch, so I figured why not contribute my thoughts.

My reality is that the fan in me never wants to see Jason leave RSL, he has been here from the start and has played such a huge part in establishing RSL as what it is today.  While it would be easy for him to claim credit for things he never does, instead he points out the efforts of others. He gave us the concept and the reality that “The Team is the Star”, I could go on and on with the things that I admire and respect about Jason and reasons why I hope he never leaves the RSL Family.  I love looking up at the West side of Rio Tinto Stadium and seeing Jason’s name and number 9 up there for all to see.

The reality is that Jason is a 40 years old guy with 7 years of MLS head coaching experience, he will likely be the first MLS coach to have 4 back to back seasons with at least 15 wins and 50 points.  Every GM, President, and owner of a MLS club should be trying to hire him, and if I were starting a new MLS franchise I sure as hell would be trying to hire as many folks from the RSL staff as I could.  NYCFC will have no budget concerns, they could hire any number of big name coaches, but if you look at how few outside coaches have been successful in MLS, you can see why they would look at Jason as a top candidate for the job.  Don’t be surprised if they aren’t (along with others) talking to Garth Lagerway as well.

Jason today after practice again addressed the issue from his perspective, he is focused on doing his job which is trying to win the trophy opportunities that present themselves.  The contract is being worked on by his agent, his focus is on the team.  I expect nothing less, and if he made a quick trip to the UK as reported, I don’t think it impacts his ability or focus on the tasks at hand.  You can see the video of him answering the question on the RSL website.

I also believe that Jason would be foolish not to entertain offers, but when he says he will deal with it at the end of the season I believe him. I know how much Jason, and other want another crack at the Champions League, I know how much work he and others have put into this team to get back in and to be able to make a real run at that title again.  Jason has always seemed a goal driven individual, he wants to be the very best at what he does and being in a small market with a team with a fairly tight budget can pose unique challenges to that, but I also believe Jason knows what he means to this team and the fans, and I also think there is the reality of where you want your family to be and your kids to grow up.  Lots of things that are likely on his mind

This week was RSL’s annual “Meet the Team day” and one of the best parts of the day was talking with fellow fans in lines around the stadium, and one of the most common questions is what does the “AFJ” mean below Jason’s signature?


It took me a minute the first time I was asked, but only a minute to figure it out.  Jason has more times than I can count said “Fortune Favors the Bold” or in Latin “audentes fortuna juvat” it is how he has managed, it seems that it is how he lives his life as well.  He was a bold player, never the biggest or the fastest, but brave and bold often taking chances that resulted in him being the first MLS player to ever hit 100 goals.  It was one of the first things he said when he made the decision to stop playing one day and become the head coach the next day, and we have seen that he often will make changes in matches.

I think back earlier this year when on the road at Montreal  when in the 85th minute of a 2-2 match on the road, Jason doesn’t pull of Devon Sandoval in favor of a defensive player to try and hold on to the draw, nope he brings on Joao Plata and goes for the win.  It didn’t work out this time, but it sent an important message to his players, the fans, and every other team in MLS, that RSL wasn’t going to go quietly, not at home, not on the road, and he has stuck with that.

I like that attitude, I like that Jason has surrounded himself with of a similar mindset, guys he has played with or played against, that RSL has the only coaching staff that is made up of all former MLS players.  The success RSL has had on the pitch has brought attention from other teams, we saw it when Robin Fraser was snagged by Chvias USA, we saw it last year when teams like New York and Portland came looking for players, we will see it more and more as RSL continues to be successful.

So while Jason is more a UB40 kinda guy, I imagine the soundtrack that he has been hearing in his head more and more lately is “Should I stay, or Should I go” by The Clash.  I sure am hoping he stays, but it would be hard to blame him if the temptation of a bigger paycheck, a bigger payroll, a bigger stage, is too much to resist, remember “Fortune Favors the Bold”.

Jason has a couple times in the past written an open letter to the fans, if I were to write a letter to him, it would look like this:

Dear Jason,

I understand the temptation, I could never hold it against you for taking another opportunity to further your coaching career as much as it might hurt to see you leave. Since the start of this journey that has become the RSL Family, you have been one of the central figures, from how you played, to the mentality you have brought to the organization as the coach, it all has been hugely important to the fans, to the staff, to the players.  No relationship is perfect, but you have shown a love and passion for this team and for this city that is inspirational and I want to thank you publicly for it.  You have helped to show all soccer fans in the US, that it isn’t about big names, or big dollars, it is about “The team is the star” which has been the foundation of the RSL Family.

I hope that you choose to stay with RSL long into the future, what we have here is special, if you don’t believe me just walk around the stands on match day and ask anyone, or ask the guys in your locker room, because we all know it.  New York is a big stage, a huge opportunity, but there is no way that anywhere is ever going to be able to replicate the last 9 years here in Salt Lake City.  Wherever you go, whatever challenges you accept, I will always be proud to be a fan of Jason Kreis.

Denzel Eslinger

If I were to write a letter to RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen it would be less emotional and much shorter:

Dear Dell Loy,

Make it Happen.


That’s How I See It


  1. Mark says:

    This question has already been answered. But we have to wait a couple of months for the official announcement of Kreis’ departure.

    • admin says:

      Based on what? Please if you have some inside information that can be verified share it, if not then you are just speculating.

      I believe Jason when he says he hasn’t made up his mind, that he is focused on the three trophies that the team is competing for and that he will deal with his contract at the end of the season.

  2. Kreg says:

    There are a few key elements to the situation. Denzel, you mentioned one – returning to the Champions League. If RSL doesn’t manage to make it in this year then I could certainly see Jason making the leap to NY.

    But going to the “big budget” comes with it’s own trouble – NYCFC will certainly want to bring in some ‘big names’ (and accompanying egos), that would more or less negate replicating a ‘team is the star’ concept that he prizes. Would he accept giving up the current control he enjoys to get a bigger paycheck? That I think may prove the balance in negotiation, if the Man-City bosses will allow him to pick the players he wants, and play them when and as he chooses (very big IF’s there…) then RSL may end up looking for a new coach.

    • admin says:

      The big budget is one thing, and you are right that control and other issues could make the NYCFC job less attractive, but think about it this way: MLS is pinning a huge amount of their future on NYCFC, it will be a chance to start from scratch and without some of the restrictions of a small market team to do something very special. Fortune Favors the Bold, and taking on what will in all likelihood be the most high profile job in MLS is if nothing else bold.

      I personally don’t think Jason is ready to leave just yet, he asked for young forwards to coach, he got it, he worked hard to get Javi back, the staff put together a team to make a very serious run at trophies (including the CCL) for the next 3 years, they have put contracts in place for players to ensure that we have a team that should be able to actually get better each of the next couple years without having to break the bank on high dollar DP’s. I hope that being given the ability to build something special here, both on and off the field carries a value that means more to Jason than just a potential big payday.

  3. Eric says:

    I’m sorry but, I’m having a little bit of a hard time swallowing his comment that he (paraphrasing) said that he is “waiting ’til the end of the season because there are three trophies to win.”
    If that were really the case, he would have politely told Man City/NY Yankees to hold off on flying him over for a conversation. He says he wants to concentrate on the rest of the season but, he has also admitted to talking to them already.
    Don’t get me wrong. I think Kreis is every bit of the hype around him. I just think he could have waited to talk to them until after the season was over. What could that hurt?…..besides being a distraction for the team during a very critical time of the season.
    I also believe that he has probably not actually made up his mind. But, he is also thinking about it and everyone knows that from the players to the owners to the fans to the players/owners/fans of every team in the league.
    This is not a very good example of how to not let it interfere with stuff going on during the season.

    • admin says:

      Really? So you have a few days off and a potential employer with a very tempting position offers to fly you in to talk with them about the position and you would say no? Listen I get your questioning the trip, but why? Several times players have flown off to Vegas to enjoy a couple days off, staff members have flown around to look at potential players, but Jason shouldn’t be able to fly on an off day (or heck even take a day or two off) to talk with the owners of a new team about being their coach? Clearly they want to make a decision, they want to start getting ready next year as they know they will need to get a full staff, do scouting, to be ready to go in 2015, I am willing to bet they want to make a decision as early as they can into next year, so talking to a guy now when he has a couple days off seems fair, versus waiting until November when the playoffs are going on. They want to make their case before he makes a decision, I don’t blame them for wanting to do that, and I don’t blame Jason for taking time to listen to what they have to say.

      Jason isn’t the only coach who has a contract that expires this year, lots of players, coaches and staff members probably have contracts the run out at the end of the year, that is the nature of the sport, to think because he hasn’t made a decision that he can’t do his job is silly. He has known all year that his contract expires at the end of the year, I see nothing that shows it has impacted anything he has done.

      I have to take him at his word, as he has never lied to me or the public before, so if he says that he is waiting until the end of the season to make up his mind, I believe him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t talk to his agent about it, the team gave their permission for NYCFC to talk with him, and if they don’t have an issue with it, neither do I.

      • Eric says:

        First of all, my job is a lot different than his. I work on an offshore oil rig between Norway and the UK. I get 3 weeks off for every 3 weeks I work but, when I work, I live at work 24 hours a day and don’t get to go home to my family at nights. I guess it could come down to your view point on the matter. I have time off where I could go do stuff (and get offers for stuff the same way). I’m not saying he can, or can’t, do anything. I was really just pointing out that an impact has been made whether he has made his choice or not.
        I guess maybe I am a little heated that RSL has come out 2 games in a row now and looked quite listless. Can he still do his job having not made his decision? I think he absolutely can but, I also think the team may be effected by all of the uncertainty as well. I just feel that the whole team lost their competitive edge over that bye week and came out of that break flat.
        One thing I have realized in the time that I have spent with RSL (since the first day) is that I am too emotionally attached to the players and could never do the coaches/owners/managers jobs because I would never want to have to trade away our guys. That is one part of that job that I do not envy. I agree that, if the owners are ok with him talking to other teams, who am I to say that he can’t? I’m just saying that I think the whole situation will have an effect on everyone involved.
        Coming out of a bye week can leave a lot of teams flat.
        Hearing that your head coach, mentor, friend, family member might be going to another team at the end of the year can cause teams to start wondering what their “world” will look like after that.
        We had both of those things happen in the same weekend and came out and looked pretty listless, seemed to have poor communication, looked as if we were not all in sync against a really good Seattle team. I know that Seattle is a really good team and deserves a lot of credit for controlling that game. But, then we come out and have another poor performance against a team that we should beat…..
        I’m not pushing the panic button yet (not even really close to that) but, my finger is hovering over the frustration button.
        I know that every team has to deal with things like this. All I’m saying is that this does effect the team as a whole. How much it effects that team is a matter of the team and the organization as a whole.

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