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SANDY — The 20th Major League Soccer club, New York City FC, announced Tuesday that it had appointed former Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis as its first head coach in club history as it is set to open its inaugural season in 2015.
“Jason is one of the true pioneers of Major League Soccer, and a leader any team would be proud to have at the helm,” NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said in the NYCFC release. “His skills and experience, together with his commitment to quality football, make him the ideal choice to lead New York City FC in its first season and beyond. He has already left a historic mark on the league, both as a player and coach, and we have every confidence in him continuing to do so at New York City FC.”
As NYCFC is not set to kick off in MLS competition until the 2015 season, NYCFC announced in the release that Kreis will officially begin his new venture with the expansion MLS club in January 2014. The New York City based club said Kreis will first travel to England where its English Premier League, Manchester City FC, is located where he will work closely with its head coach, Manuel Pellegrini.
NYCFC also stated in the release that during Kreis’ time in England with Manchester City FC he will observe “the club’s approach to coaching, training and player development, with the goal of applying similar approaches to New York City FC.”
Kreis, who was first a MLS player for FC Dallas and the Salt Lake club before retiring to become the Salt Lake club’s second-ever head coach, had been with RSL for nine seasons.
“I am looking forward to making my contribution to New York City FC from the very outset,” Kreis said in the NYCFC release. “The opportunity to develop the first professional club based in New York City was impossible to pass up as was the chance to immerse myself in the football operations in Manchester observing some of the leading figures in European football. There will be a lot to do before our inaugural season in 2015, but I’m confident that with the support teams in the city organization, we will be well placed to hit the ground running.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone associated with Real Salt Lake, including its fantastic fans for the many special years I spent there. I wish them all the very best for the future.”
Kreis came to the Salt Lake club via a trade with FC Dallas on Nov. 17, 2004, and played two and a half seasons in the Claret and Cobalt before retiring and stepping in as head coach on May 3, 2007. Kreis led the Salt Lake club to its first MLS Cup trophy in 2009 over the Los Angeles Galaxy. He then led the club to the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final.
The club's 2013 season saw the young head coach lead a much-restructured roster during a rebuilding year to two Cup finals — U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup — grabbing the Western Conference Final trophy before falling to Sporting Kansas City on Dec. 7 in the MLS Cup.
During his tenure as head coach, the Claret and Cobalt qualified for the playoffs for six consecutive seasons, which is the current longest active streak in the MLS. RSL also saw 15-win and 50-point seasons for four consecutive years under Kreis.
Kreis’ No. 9 RSL jersey was retired during the 2011 season. Kreis leaves RSL with a 111-87-69 record across all competitions.
“I'd like to thank Jason for a remarkably successful run during his nine years with Real Salt Lake as both a player and as a head coach," RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen said in the RSL press release. "Jason obviously leaves the Utah soccer scene significantly better than he found it, building the competitive foundation of one of Major League Soccer's elite organizations." Kira Terry is a sports writer covering Real Salt Lake for KSL.com. Follow her on Twitter, @kiraterry.