Where does Kreis' departure leave Real Salt Lake?
Meg Marks (@megcmarks)
What has been built here since Jason Kreis took the reins in 2007 is nothing short of awe inspiring, and his departure is going to be a gut check for this organization. Priority number one needs to be locking Garth Lagerway down with a new contract. Much credit has been given to Jason for the successes, and I think Lagerway has been criminally neglected in recognition. There is a solid team in place, and with no major roster moves this soon into the offseason, there has to be confidence moving forward. The depth of this squad was put on display this season and rings true that old, trusty RSL motto: the Team is the Star. The guys left a lot out on the table, they are hungry and they know what they have to do. They are Fantastically Together, and I have to believe a new coach isn't going change that.
In some senses, the departure of Jason Kreis leaves us in a lurch. It's easy to feel like we're in a good position - and in a lot of ways, we are - but the shift in momentum puts us in a dangerous position. (How exactly do we address that position? We'll talk about that with the next question.) The biggest risk is not that a new coach will want to blow up the system; Jeff Cassar and Robin Fraser surely make that less an issue. The biggest risk is that patience will be at a premium. This leaves us in a situation that necessitates patience for the players and for the coach - not just from the supporters, though that's something, but also from ownership.
Of the proposed replacements for Kreis (Cassar, Fraser and Wynalda) who is your favorite option, and what do they bring to the table that others don't?
At this point, it seems patently obvious that the decision will come down to Jeff Cassar or Robin Fraser. Both have an intrinsic understanding of the ethos to Real Salt Lake and that will be imperative in moving forward.
The Head Coaching experience that Fraser would bring with him could be invaluable. It's easy to discredit this based on his record in Carson, but we can't forget that Chivas started Chivasing the year before he arrived and has continued Chivasing since he left.
The tutelage of Jason to Jeff Cassar over the span of 7 seasons would parlay into a seamless transition for the club. I also can't help but think that Cassar's stock rose even more when he was called on as a GK coach for the USMNT in September.
I've wavered back and forth between the two, but I have to settle on Jeff Cassar. For me, his familiarity with and knowledge of the current team is insurmountable, especially regarding the younger players. Consistency will prove pivotal in the continued development for guys like Gil, Sandoval and Velasquez.
As Meg addresses, Wynalda was out of the picture from the beginning - and more recently, he's been firmly out of the running. With that in mind, both present different advantages.
Promoting Jeff Cassar from his assistant position could pay dividends. He has intimate knowledge of this group, and he's been coaching much of the young core with his time heading up the reserves. This gives him a slight edge in considerations, but Robin Fraser offers something else.
Fraser, having been a part of our group, isn't a stranger to the core group of players. Cassar may have the edge in familiarity with the squad, but Fraser is not so disadvantaged as to be a poor choice. Fraser also brings with him the experience of failure. When we talk about Real Salt Lake and Jason Kreis giving chances to players who hadn't been given a fair shake, we think of some of our core. If we run down our core group, we're chock full of players like that.
Fraser could offer that hunger we've built our squad around. He'll be eager to prove that he can actually do a good job as a head coach in MLS. He's proven a fantastic coach - 2010 at Real Salt Lake and 2013 at New York Red Bulls show that - and he'll want to make the step up.