Even at the best of times, press conferences can be dull affairs. Usually you’ll see coaches or club officials seated behind a table or standing at a podium, delivering a series of cliches and canned answers or talking points.
Even the Q&A sessions after the opening remarks can be kind of stuffy because media members may not want to bring up some topics openly if they’re working on something that may take a while, or they can sometimes be shy about asking tough questions in front of a crowd. So a lot of times, everyone’s coverage of an event turns out exactly the same.
However, when new Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis met the media today at The Abbey in downtown Orlando, there were opportunities for brief one-on-one interviews, which are usually more interesting. Here are a few items gleaned from one-on-one interviews with Kreis and Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins today at The Abbey.
Certainly you must have been pursued by several teams — Seattle has been a rumor for a while now — what was important to you about selecting your next coaching position?
“At this juncture in my career, I look at this as quite a serious decision, actually. I believe that after being relieved of my duties after a year in New York, if I was to take another position and be relieved of my duties in the short term, that may be the end of my MLS coaching career. And so I’ve wanted to handle this decision from a very patient perspective and from a very selective perspective as well — to say that I need X, Y, and Z in order to convince me to go back into coaching now. This is a team that fills X, Y, and Z and then some.”
Is it helpful to you that there’s a friendly next Wednesday against Stoke City so that you can get an early look at what you’ve got in your first week as head coach?
“It’s not the ideal situation. The ideal situation for me would have been to have the group for an entire week to show them this is what a week will look like under us. With the match in the way, it may cause some issues with that, and I haven’t clearly decided about how I’m going to handle that situation yet. And I would say that I will lean towards playing a lot of players and using it more like a training session than a competitive match.”
There were quite a few fans who expected perhaps a Brazilian coach, but you said that it was important to have someone with experience in this country. Why was that such a big factor in the club’s search?
“The game in the United States is very different than most of the countries in the world. We have different systems. We have different rules. Everything about the game is slightly different than it is anywhere else in the world. And therefore, if you bring an international coach in, which we never intended to do by the way, they’ve got, usually, a 12- to maybe 18-month, 24-month learning curve to understand the college system, the draft, young players, Homegrown Players, allocation money, target allocation money, the cap system — everything about this is a learning process for someone who doesn’t know the systems well. And in Jason — and in all of our candidates — we had people who knew soccer in the United States, who knew and understood those things and knew how to work with them. And in Jason, more than anybody else, we had someone who’d been successful in those systems.”
Certainly Jason Kreis was a coach in demand, having won an MLS Cup and coming within a few penalty kicks of another. Was the timing of the club letting Adrian Heath go beneficial in your opportunity to land him?
“The two (events) were really not connected at all, but once Adrian had been released, then we started to look at our short list of candidates and Jason was always on that list, of course. We were lucky that he was available, obviously, because he was still sitting out his time from NYCFC. So we were fortunate that he was available to us at that point in time. We wanted to take advantage of that. I know there were a lot of clubs that were looking to sign Jason and were in talks with him. He didn’t allude to it in his press conference but I know that to be the case. So we feel very, very fortunate to have grabbed our man because he’s very much in demand and I think we’ll see him back up there again at the summit of MLS very shortly.”