Jason Kreis' time at Real Salt Lake was defined by consistency. Along with former RSL Vice President and General Manager Garth Lagerwey, Kreis laid out a plan for how to mold a team around a core group and build that team into a perennial winner.
Kreis wasn't afforded that opportunity in his last stop at New York City FC, being fired after just one non-playoff season with the expansion franchise despite being saddled with old, expensive Designated Players that didn't leave much left to invest in a decent defense.
It will be interesting to see what kind of patience he is afforded by an Orlando City front office that has seen its share of turnover and turmoil over the last year, not to mention what kind of say he's granted in player acquisitions. By now, City supporters are familiar with the initial "three-year plan" that the club set out to execute upon its arrival in Major League Soccer, only to blow up said plan after failing to make the postseason in its initial MLS campaign and eventually parting ways with Adrian Heath at the mid-point of the 2016 season.
Kreis built a winning club in Salt Lake – one that took home the MLS Cup in 2009 and made the postseason every year from 2008 through 2013 – over time and according to a well-defined plan, the kind of aforementioned plan that Orlando had implemented and then diverted from.
"We very much had a scripted plan, written down essentially between Garth and myself about what we're doing," Kreis told Sports Illustrated in 2013. "That was a huge part of the philosophy, is consistency – to stick with a core group of guys and add players around them and try to develop that core to be bigger and bigger."
While Orlando assembled a young core group that it could – and theoretically still can – build around, things got a bit wacky in the off-season with the short-lived tenure of Armando Carneiro, which resulted in the departure of former GM Paul McDonough. There was the signing of the expensive (and yet-to-perform) Antonio Nocerino that was accompanied by tampering drama, a move that didn't seem to make much sense at the time and still doesn't today.
While the Lions have built an identity in terms of how they want to play – an attacking, possession-based style that Kreis will continue to bring (more on that here) – the identity of what the club wants to be from a front-office standpoint is still a work in progress after so much turnover in recent months. The Lions definitely want to win, however, and Kreis has proven he can do that if given the proper support. The hire represents a statement on the direction the club wants to go.
With that statement having been made and a new era of Orlando City beginning, the interplay between Kreis and the higher-ups will be one of the most interesting aspects to follow.