Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts gave Jason Kreis the proverbial kiss of death yesterday, giving his embattled coach a VOTE OF CONFIDENCE.
Michael Lewis of The Salt Lake Tribune says that Checketts was initially reluctant to endorse Kreis' performance, but later said that the team has "great leadership".
While this isn't exactly the same as saying something like "Jason Kreis is our coach and will continue to be our coach for many years to come, period", it's worth noting that Checketts admits to telling the coach not to "change the way you play...I want a team that attacks all the time".
Checketts has been around the block enough times to know that you can't order your coach to not employ strategies he might otherwise be inclined to pursue and then fire him for not pursuing them, so even without a ringing endorsement it would seem that Kries is safe for now.
In any case, Checketts pulled the guy off of the team roster, with no coaching experience of any kind at any level, and handed him the reins after firing Dave Ellinger barely two years ago, and he's simply going to have to live with him for awhile.
It doesn't help matters that Kreis is one of the good guys, a class act on and off the field and the type of guy you'd love to see succeed.
Unfortunately, RSL's Cinderella-ish playoff run last year, which but for a hard-to-swallow goalpost-clanging loss to NYRB in the Western Conference final could have easily ended with them kicking off against Columbus - a team they had beaten 2-0 a few weeks before - in MLS Cup, raised expectations higher than, perhaps, the available personnel (or common sense) would otherwise suggest.
Still, the team started 2009 with a bang, winning three of their first five games, culminating that stretch with a ludicrous 6-0 humiliation of the Revs in late April. It looked like everything was coming up roses for the Stormin Mormons.
Then, with dreams of MLS Cup dancing in their heads, RSL hit a wall. They went 0-5-3 in their next eight games, including last night's match at Rio Tinto when a ridiculous 88th minute Omar Cummings goal robbed them of what looked like the win they so desperately need:
The fact that the Rapids are The Royals biggest rival, and that they were missing both Conor Casey and Pablo Mastroeni, only serves to deepen the gloom.
Still, whatever Checketts does or doesn't say, it's hard to believe that he'll jettison Kreis anytime soon.
Partly because, as a true pro, he knows that there's a lot of season left, and second because, when you pick someone out of the chorus you're pretty much obligated to give him a whole lot of time to get it right.
But the fact that they're already asking the question in Salt Lake, something which would have been inconceivable less than two months ago, is indicative of just how badly Salt Lake's season has gone off the rails.