Jason Kreis spent seven seasons as head coach of the Claret and Cobalt, leading the club to its only MLS Cup title in 2009.
It was the title of "runner up," however, that plagued his coaching tenure.
In 2010, it was three points that kept RSL from capturing the Supporters' Shield title. The Los Angeles Galaxy's total of 59 would eventually best his club's effort (56).
In 2011, Coach Kreis led his men on the deepest CONCACAF Champions League run in MLS history, but they faltered on their own turf against Mexican outfit Monterrey in the return leg of the final round.
Last season was no different. Coach Kreis remained the bridesmaid and never the bride.
Before a home crowd, RSL shockingly fell to D.C. United in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup final. The same United side that finished with the worst record in MLS history caused an all-too-familiar feeling to permeate Rio Tinto Stadium.
Kreis and his men would suffer the same fate in their final match as a unit. Sporting Kansas City captured the 2013 MLS Cup title thanks to the dreaded penalty kicks.
But rather than finish climbing a mountain he failed to climb on four separate occasions, the now former head coach decided take his talents to the Big Apple. He was formerly introduced as the first head coach of New York City FC—MLS's 20th franchise—on Jan. 10, 2014.
His first public comments after making the decision were directed toward Bill Riley of ESPN 700 and explained the ultimate motivation behind his departure (h/t to Nick Firchau of the official MLS website):
We have some angst about that, honestly, through my playing career, and looking back and saying, "What if? What if I had taken the chance to go on some trials in Europe? What if I had not made the safe choice?" As this opportunity became available through the summer…I think we both thought that it was kind of eerie, that we were being faced with this opportunity, and we've always looked back at [his career] and said, "What if we had made a decision the other way?"As we thought about that, we both came to the feeling that now's our time to go after that thing we didn't do. For all those days in our playing career, now's our time to really see if there's another big mountain to climb. And so in the end, that's the decision we made, and that's why we made it.
RSL would appoint one of their own as the third head coach in club history. Jeff Cassar was introduced to the media in December of 2013 after spending the last seven seasons as the Claret and Cobalt's goalkeeper coach.
Should there be any reservations about his coaching capabilities, look no further than Nick Rimando. His 73 percent save percentage in 2013 was the highest of any keeper who featured in at least 1,000 minutes last season.
When asked by RSL Insider Brian Dunseth about his vision for the club, Coach Cassar has no intention of deviating from the status quo:
It's definitely in line because it's all positive. Jason [Kreis] put a lot of things forth with this club. I was next to his side during all those ideas. It's working. It's what I believe in. Even more important, I believe in everything that's been said.
Being a part of the blueprint that assembled the most aesthetic club in MLS—one that led the league in possession, successful passes and pass accuracy in 2013—will ease the transition of Kreis to Cassar.
It's incumbent on Cassar, however, to carry his men across the finish line in 2014.