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Jason Kreis quits Real Salt Lake for expansion New York City FC

Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis, left,

Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis, left, is hugged by Real Salt Lake's Ned Grabavoy as they celebrate after Real Salt Lake beat the Portland Timbers in the second game of the Western Conference finals in the MLS Cup soccer playoffs. (Nov. 24, 2013) Credit: AP

Jason Kreis has stepped down as coach of Real Salt Lake, three days after losing Major League Soccer's championship game, to become coach of the expansion New York City FC team that starts play in 2015.

Kreis, who turns 41 on Dec. 29, played for Salt Lake from 2005-07 before becoming coach. He led the team to the 2009 MLS Cup championship, becoming the youngest coach to win the title.

He also led the team to finals in the 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League, this year's U.S. Open Cup and Saturday's MLS final, where Salt Lake lost to Sporting Kansas City on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie. Kreis finishes 90-71-58 with Salt Lake in MLS, reaching the playoffs in all six seasons, and 111-8-69 in all competitions.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone associated with Real Salt Lake, including its fantastic fans for the many special years I spent there. I wish them all the very best for the future," Kreis said in a statement released Tuesday.

NYCFC, co-owned by Manchester City and the New York Yankees, said Kreis will start work with the team in January. Kreis will spend time in England working with Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini, director of football Txiki Bergiristain and reserves manager Patrick Vieira.

"The opportunity to develop the first professional club based in New York City was impossible to pass up as was the chance to immerse myself in the football operations in Manchester observing some of the leading figures in European football," Kreis said.

Kreis had one goal in 14 appearances for the U.S. national team from 1996.

He was the first player signed to Salt Lake, which retired his No. 9 jersey on July 4, 2011. He was Major League Soccer's MVP in 1999 and the first player in the league to hit 100 goals. He finished his playing career as the third highest scorer in MLS regular season history.

Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen said the search for a new coach has already begun. Kreis' contract with the team ran through the 2013 season.

"We are certain that the job Jason leaves behind -- with both the accomplished veteran core and the glut of promising youth -- is quite attractive to potential candidates, and we expect to name Jason's replacement next week," RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen said.

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