The subject: New York City FC hired Jason Kreis in December to build its franchise from scratch. Kreis knows a thing or two about constructing a squad: he played a critical role in assembling and reinforcing the foundation at Real Salt Lake during his seven years with the club. His expansive approach and his preference to keep possession fit neatly with the overall philosophy of the parent club in Manchester.
FOX Soccer’s Leander Schaerlaeckens chatted with Kreis about his first few months with the club after NYCFC announced its intention to play at Yankee Stadium next season on Monday.
Manchester City has had you over in Manchester for several months now to help you prepare for the job. How is your study abroad trip going?
Kreis: “(Laughs.) I don’t know if it’s quite as much study abroad as it is just to have the experience to be there and to understand all of the facets that go into working for a club like Manchester City. The amount of resources and the amount of things they put into the performance of the players is different than it is in the U.S. There is no club that can say they do anything like that. So that’s been an interesting perspective for me to see and learn about, and to think about how that’s going to translate to the club in New York. It hasn’t been a tremendous learning experience insomuch as it is just me getting involved and seeing what the pros and cons of that may be and then trying to think of how we can apply that to New York City FC.”
You’ve been going all around Europe, haven’t you? What’s your itinerary been like?
Kreis: “A little bit. Just over the first portion of the time I was there, I spent three weeks with the first team; then I spent three weeks with the under-21 team. And then interspersed in those six weeks were lots of meetings with methodology and performance analysis and sports science and all of those departments. And then they kind of freed me up in the last several weeks to maybe about a month where I’ve been able to kind of manage my own schedule a little bit, go to the training sessions that I think were most relevant for me and then have the opportunity as well to do some scouting. That’s probably what the next three to four weeks will look like as well. I’ll be hopefully taking a couple more scouting trips to look at players all around Europe."
So what are the sorts of things you’ve picked up on? And will all those things be available to you as well?
Kreis: “It’s a different way to look at running a soccer club for me, to think about all of the different departments that can be in and around a club and to have that a bit more formalized and to have some of the responsibilities a bit more allocated and distributed across different groups. I think that’s something to think about how that can apply to New York City FC. Granted, I don’t think we’re going to have the types of resources that Manchester City has to fill all those departments the way that they do. But we’re thinking about what type of a version we could have that would work in Major League Soccer.
So it’s hardly a re-education as a coach. It’s more like learning the company, right?
Kreis: “It’s an interesting thing. We play a game on a field that’s 70 yards wide by a 100-and-something long. We play with a round ball and it’s still the same game. They haven’t reinvented the wheel over there and it’s not rocket science. It’s been fantastic to be around some incredible personalities like Manuel Pellegrini and Patrick Vieira, and being around the players in the first team there has been an amazing experience. But one of the biggest things that I’ve learned actually is that we know what we’re doing over here and we’ve been doing it a while as well.”