New York City Football Club fired their Head Coach Jason Kreis on Monday night after they failed to make the playoffs in their inaugural season.
In a statement announcing the dismissal, NYC FC said, “Prior to the start of the season, it was agreed with the coaching team that securing of a playoff place was an appropriate target for this year. A win rate of less than one in three games and a points tally which was the second lowest in the league is clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed.
“While the challenges of building and integrating a new team are recognized, it was felt by the Board, following a comprehensive review, that there was not enough evidence of the dynamics required to improve the performance of the team for the next season and beyond.”
New York City FC President Tom Glick said, “The decision to part company with Jason and his team after two years of working together has not been taken lightly and this is a difficult announcement for all involved.
“We thank Jason for his passion, his efforts and for his contribution to the historic inaugural season of New York City FC. Many memories of this first season will be indelibly etched in the minds of all involved with the Club and Jason and his team have played a huge part in that. We wish him all the very best in what will undoubtedly be a continued successful career in soccer management.
“The Club is committed to ensuring that a suitable candidate is in place in good time to prepare for the 2016 season and an announcement will be made when a candidate is confirmed,” said Glick.
The signs were there that Kreis’ job was in danger when he called out his team after their loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday, August 30 at Yankee Stadium, leading to concerns that there is a crisis, or Kreis-is, in this case.
Kreis said sternly about his team, “We need to work really hard, and we need to show, the players need to show if they want to be here and if they want to be a part of this, because I know the coaching staff does. I know the coaching staff cares an awful lot about this club and about the job we’re attempting to do. I’m not so sure that all the players do.”
NYC FC was not the typical expansion team, based on the fact that their parent club is Manchester City, they play in Yankee Stadium, and they signed three of the most accomplished soccer players ever, David Villa, Frank Lampard, and Andrea Pirlo.
Kreis said of the pressure on them to make the playoffs, ” First of all, I think it’s unfair. I think that there’s clearly not enough credit given to how hard it is to be an expansion team. In my point of view, expansion teams are set up in our league to not be able to succeed, for it to take some time, and that’s probably the right way to do it. Unfortunately, that means there has to be some patience and a bit of a longer view, which is very difficult to have.
“I think I’m probably more guilty than anybody in this club about having a lack of patience and wanting to win immediately. And yes, we have three very high-profile players (Villa, Pirlo, Lampard), but we have one (Villa) up until about a month ago, and we had two (Villa and Pirlo) until basically, he’s (Lampard) played two full matches. So, I think it would be very unfair to say that we spent all this money on three DP’s and come to the conclusion that we should make the playoffs. That’s a completely incorrect statement,” said Kreis.
This has been an up-and-down season for NYC FC, to say the least. They opened the season with a tie in Kansas City and then a magical 2-0 win over New England in their home opener at Yankee Stadium.
They did not win another game until June 6th, with an 11-game winless streak in between victories. David Villa missed time in that stretch, but was back by June, and they won three in a row.
They hosted the Red Bulls on June 28th, and it’s funny to say now considering where the teams presently are (Red Bulls in second place, NYC eighth), but NYC was going in on a high and the Red Bulls were reeling.
NYC FC got a goal from Tommy McNamara to open the scoring very early, but the Red Bulls got three goals in the second half to win it 3-1. Even though NYC won the next week, in July 4th in Montreal, they haven’t really been the same since the Red Bulls raided Yankee Stadium.
In early July, NYC FC began to drastically change their team, as they brought in Andrea Pirlo from Juventus, Andoni Iraola from Atletico Bilbao, and Angelino, an 18-year old from the Manchester City Academy, to join the defense. Iraola was mediocre, while Angelino is very speedy, but missed his assignments too often.
They also added Jefferson Mena, who was nothing short of a disaster. One of his many low points came when he whiffed on clearing a pass against the Red Bulls on August 9th that led to a Bradley Wright-Phillips goal, part of their 2-0 win that night.
Frank Lampard, the midfielder who they brought in from Chelsea and then went to play for Manchester City last season, finally was set to play July 12th against Toronto. A couple of days before that game, he suffered a calf injury that set him back three weeks.
Lampard made his debut on August 1st against Montreal, coming off the bench to play the final 30 minutes and looked rusty out there, having issues completing his passes. He started the following week’s game on August 9th against the Red Bulls, and was very quiet except for a high-quality chance in the opening minutes.
Lampard turned it on in September, scoring his first goal against San Jose on September 19. He finished with three goals on the season.
Andrea Pirlo signed with NYC FC on July 6th. Pirlo had an up-and-down start, as there were some games that he was bottled up at midfield and largely ineffective. Once Pirlo turned it on in September, he lived up to his Maestro nickname, as he finished the season with five assists.
They went on a roll in September with Pirlo, Lmapard, and Villa gelling on offense and realizing the vision when they were brought here. They won three in a row, over Toronto and San Jose at Yankee Stadium, and then in Vancouver.
Their playoff hopes took a real hit when they lost 2-1 on the road to DC United on October 2. They then lost to Orlando City, 2-1, on the road on the 16th, and lost the season finale, 3-1, to the New England Revolution, at Yankee Stadium on October 25.
NYC FC finished with a record of 10 wins, seven draws, and 17 losses, to finish with 37 points, 12 out of the final playoff spot.
A lot of what Kreis said in late August was a reflection of all the midseason changes, and that the players did not have enough time to get continuity with each other. It was very tough to have a “transition time” to work in Lampard, Pirlo, Iraola, Angelino, and Mena 20 games into a 34-game season.
The time spent working in these players “transitioned” NYC FC right out of the playoffs, and who knows how many out the door.