For the second time this season Major League Soccer has suspended Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis, and this time it's twice as damaging.
Two months after rehearsed critical comments about MLS officiating earned Kreis a $1,000 fine and a one-game suspended, the league threw down the gauntlet Thursday afternoon to the tune of $2,000 and a two-game suspension for Kreis' postgame comments with last weekend's game.
Obviously the league doesn't believe Kreis learned his lesson.
Following last Saturday's 0-0 draw with Houston, Kreis went into his press conference no doubt expecting to be critical of the officiating, which prompted him to say "if you guys want to pitch in a little fund for my fine that would be a good idea" as he approached the podium.
He proceeded to go off on another tirade about the referees as expected.
"I'm tired of it, I'm exasperated ... This is absolutely ridiculous, every single week we play here I feel like we're playing away. Every 50-50 call goes against us. My man (Nat Borchers) gets pushed down in the box, the defender has his arms up in front of him showing everybody he's clearly pushed my man down in the box and we don't even get a thought of a penalty kick. Where's the linesman then to help the referee? He was certainly there a few weeks ago to call a non offside's against us."
The suspension means that Kreis will miss Saturday's home match against Columbus, as well as next Saturday's match at the Chicago Fire.
Like his previous suspensions, including one last year in which a late-game ejection earned him an automatic suspension the following match, Kreis will be allowed to be in communication with his bench via radio from the press box. He's also allowed in the locker room prior to the game, as well as halftime and after the game.
Following Kreis' suspension in May, MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis said, "It's very unfair for a coach to vent frustration by publicly criticizing those who have no forum to respond. In many instances the criticisms are unfounded and unfair. Clearly referees make mistakes, that happens in games all around the world."
Gazidis added that fines often aren't an effective deterrent, but suspensions usually are. With Kreis apparently that wasn't the case the first time around.
MLS has somewhat taken a zero tolerance approach to coaches who criticize refs.
About five years ago Gazidis said there was a real concern about the lack of respect shown toward officials on the field. It created an environment that made it difficult for the refs to do their jobs, according to Gazidis.
That's when the league started respect initiatives, and it has noticed improved behavior around the league as a result; fines for dissent have gone down as well.
Prior to the start of the 2008 season Gazidis said MLS spoke with every team and emphasized the positive progress of the respect initiatives.
"We asked for the continued leadership from coaches, seeking their support in particular to improve bench behavior and public commentary about officials," said Gazidis.
Kreis' suspension is believed to be the biggest in MLS history for a coach. Former RSL coach John Ellinger was suspended one game in 2006, while Octavio Zambrano (1999 New York) and Sigi Schmid (2001 L.A. Galaxy) have also been suspended for one game.New England coach Steve Nicol has been fined three times, but never suspended.
E-mail: [email protected]