Two years ago, Jason Kreis was on the brink of making his decision to leave Real Salt Lake and join City Football Group in their New York City FC endeavor.
Today, Kreis sits as a reportedly (then denied, then reportedly again) out-of-favor coach in New York, and Jeff Cassar — his replacement in Salt Lake City — has found himself on the blunt end of criticism after RSL missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
And all that brings us around to the real point: If Jason Kreis was available, and Real Salt Lake needed a coach, would we go there again?
I'm not advocating that, and I'm not advocating that anyone lose their positions — that's far from my place to judge, although both teams (RSL especially) failed to capitalize on the opportunities presented them.
When Kreis joined NYCFC's group, the chatter in these parts was that they're not a group renowned for patience with struggling teams. They take their opportunities to fix things quickly and swiftly, even if their attempts are misguided or not at all well-suited to MLS.
If Real Salt Lake does need a coach, Kreis seems a natural choice — he knows the team, he knows the city, he knows the fans, all that — but he also seems like an outside choice, too. His reported falling-out with Dell Loy Hansen probably had repercussions that would see him shy away from the opportunity to return, but their issues date back before City Football Group took an overbearing, over-controlling hand in his work.
It's hard to know what Kreis would do — or should do — in this situation. And it's even harder to know what Real Salt Lake should do. Would it be worth going down that road again? Are there better options, and is continuity one of them?
Obviously, we're not privy to any inside information on what will happen in the coming weeks and months on either side. Still, it's hard to not perk up at the timing of these rumors and wonder what the future holds.
At this point, with MLS teams starting their playoff runs, there's nothing else for us to do. We can't focus on a play-in qualifier tonight, and we can't focus on our high draft pick for weeks. Why not speculate?
If we're to wrap things up, let's just ask ourselves what Kreis would bring back to the organization. Is it just about his skill in managing players and ensuring they meet expectations? His sternness and demeanor are prominent, but did that ever have a distinct effect on results? It's not so obvious, even if it seems so.
Would he suddenly do better with integrating out-of-favor players? He earned criticism in many NYCFC-focused circles for not starting Poku more frequently (he had six starts, four goals, and seven assists) — and while that's not what we were paying attention to last year, we're well-acquainted with his lineup stubbornness. (For an example of that in Salt Lake, one needs look no further than Enzo Martinez, who was with Real Salt Lake for two years and never got a sniff at minutes.)
And finally, we have to ask: Would his record in big matches change? Outside of 2009, RSL was the team that made the climb to the top, then tumbled down at the last minute — would that suddenly change? Has his experience brought him improvement there?
Real Salt Lake's 2015 offseason is going to be an interesting, potentially exciting one — but if it's a return to the old ways you're looking for, it's not very likely. Kreis might not be out at City after all, and if he is, it's unlikely that he'd look to Salt Lake City as his next step. He's still a very talented coach (despite our questions about him above, I still have faith in him as a coach) and will have his pick of jobs if he leaves. He may even find himself looking overseas at options, such is his prominence among American coaches.
Then again — you can never say that door's fully closed, can you?