April 27, 2011
Wingert on Kreis building RSL
By Michael Lewis
|Chris Wingert on Jason Kreis: "Jason had a vision of what he wanted to do, the goals that he wanted for the team and how he wanted to achieve them."
Photo by Joy Rubenstein
When Jason Kreis took over the coaching reins of Real Salt Lake in May, 2007, he inherited a team that was one of the worst clubs in MLS.
Yet, the former MLS all-star midfielder and forward definitely had plans on what he wanted to accomplish -- to turn the laughing stock of the league into a true team, where players would play for the uniform and not their egos.
It certainly wasn't an easy task given where RSL was. But Kreis picked the right players -- domestically and internationally to turn the team not only into a competitive side, but the best in the league, if not all of CONCACAF. On Wednesday night, Kreis and RSL could make it official in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final at Rio Tinto Stadium (Fox Soccer Channel, 10 p.m. ET).
RSL defender and Babylon, N.Y. native Chris Wingert, one of Kreis' first acquisitions in 2007, has seen the plan in action first hand. Wingert noted that Kreis, along with general manager Garth Lagerwey and club president Bill Manning (a Massapequa, N.Y. native) were not going to waver.
"Jason had a vision of what he wanted to do, the goals that he wanted for the team and how he wanted to achieve them," Wingert said by telephone from Utah earlier this week. "They have done a an incredible job of selling it to the team. It's a process."
Kreis brought in the likes of defender Jamison Olave (Colombia), midfielder Javier Morales (Argentina) and forwards Fabian Espindola (Argentina) and Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) to change the face of the team.
"They did a great job of going through that process, not just learning about who these guys are as players, but we they are as people and whether they were going to throw their egos aside and buy into the system that he was going to put into place," Wingert said. "You could tell by being in our locker room, being around these guys that these different players were picked for a reason. It was no accident that they are here.
"Certainly they were talented, but there was more to it for Jason. He wanted to see if the guys were going to buy into the concept of the team. He has continued to preach that. It's worked for us. We're not a big market team. We're in a league where the salary cap is low. We're in a market where we're not going to be spending millions of dollars on players, at least not at this point.
"For us to win, they thought we had to have guys who were going to buy into that type of system where everybody puts their egos aside and more worried about what the team could accomplish. So far it's worked for us."