Source: Kreis in advanced discussions to become Orlando City coach
Orlando City SC is in advanced discussions with Jason Kreis to become its next head coach, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s coaching search.
Kreis, the former head coach of Real Salt Lake and New York City FC, was fired after last season when expansion NYCFC failed to make the playoffs. Largely considered to be the top coaching candidate on the open market, Kreis would represent an ambitious hire by Orlando City, which fired the only coach in its history, Adrian Heath, on July 6.
Kreis led Real Salt Lake to two MLS Cups appearances in seven seasons, winning the title in 2009. Kreis, who was named MLS Most Valuable Player in 1999 as a player with the Dallas Burn, led RSL to a 111-87-69 record across all competitions, including a 90-71-58 mark in the MLS regular season. He went 10-17-7 in his first season with NYCFC, which struggled defensively despite having three high-priced designated players.
A hint of the talks between Kreis and the club popped up on social media this weekend when Orlando City chief executive officer Alex Leitão followed Kreis on Twitter before unfollowing him Sunday.
Kreis was considered a potential coaching candidate for the Seattle Sounders, which is currently struggling under longtime MLS coach Sigi Schmid, but Orlando City seems set to swoop in and snag the man that led their expansion rivals. Kreis could also be a candidate for expansion side Atlanta United FC.
What remains to be seen is how much power Kreis would demand if he is hired as coach. The MLS veteran would likely want some say in player acquisitions. Orlando City currently lacks a general manager after a tumultuous offseason saw the departure of GM Paul McDonough and chief soccer officer Armando Carneiro, a former Benfica official who parted ways with the club after only a few months.
Former Beswicks Sports agent Niki Budalic was hired last year as the team’s assistant general manager.
Kreis was known for playing a diamond 4-4-2 midfield with Real Salt Lake, though he tried different formations with NYCFC to fit the expansion side’s personnel. Orlando City has typically played a 4-2-3-1, but would have some talented pieces for Kreis to work with, including midfielders Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren and Cristian Higuita, forward Cyle Larin and Brazilian designated player Kaká.
Heath was fired after guiding Orlando City to a 16-18-16 mark across one and a half seasons of MLS play. Orlando City finished just outside of the playoff picture in 2015, and was 4-4-8 when Heath was fired earlier this month. Orlando City has since gone 0-1-2 under interim coach Bobby Murphy.
Heath, who had been with the club since its founding in 2008, also led Orlando City to two USL titles and three USL regular-season championships.
After firing Kreis, hired Patrick Vieira. NYCFC is 9-6-6 (33 pts.) and leading the Eastern Conference after Sunday's 3-1 road victory over the Montreal Impact.
Orlando City president Phil Rawlins told the Orlando Sentinel the team was looking for a coach that fits the club’s philosophy of attacking, possession-oriented play and has experience coaching in the U.S. as well as an understanding of the complex MLS rules.
Kreis certainly checks off those boxes.
Paul Tenorio is a reporter for FourFourTwo. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTenorio.