ORLANDO, Fla. – Jason Kreis does not expect to have to do much motivation for his Orlando City SC team ahead of Saturday’s “massive, massive” home clash with Montreal Impact in the wake of their chastening 3-1 U.S. Open Cup defeat by Miami FC on Wednesday.
Kreis was unsurprisingly disappointed following a Cup exit at the hands of a super-motivated NASL outfit.
Now the City head coach anticipates a big reaction from his men as they return to chasing league points to stay in a playoff position against one of the teams hot on their red-line heels in Montreal (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE, TVAS in Canada).
“One would hope it’s not going to be difficult to motivate the players for Saturday night,” he insisted. “It’s a massive, massive match. We have three road games behind it, and it will be absolutely critical that we [as a coaching staff] do our jobs to get the team ready and take all three points.”
Kreis took full blame for a limp Orlando performance against Miami, fielding a lineup that will likely see only two of Wednesday’s starters take the field against the Impact.
With the likes of Kaká, Will Johnson, Carlos Rivas, Scott Sutter, Joe Bendik, Jose Aja and Matias Perez Garcia either on the bench or rested completely, the Lions looked lifeless as they were dominated from start to finish.
“For me, this is the most disappointing night since I’ve been in Orlando, and I want to take full and complete responsibility for it,” Kreis said. “There are three things coaches are tasked with, and that is to have the players ready physically, mentally and tactically, and, from my point of view, we did not do our jobs tonight.
“Miami were clearly the better team, and they deserve a tremendous respect and admiration for that. But as angry and disappointed as I am, this is not the first time a lower division team has beaten an MLS team, nor will it be the last. Perhaps they were more motivated than we were, but again, that is the coach’s fault.”
Giles Barnes, who grabbed the late consolation strike for Orlando after Stefano Pinho had chalked up a clinical hat trick for the visitors, refused to let the players off the hook for what he termed a major failure on their part.
“You can call it an upset or whatever you want, but that’s got to hurt us deep down,” he said. “It’s got to play on your mind for a couple of days and be your motivation to get back into training and make sure it’s out of everyone’s heads by Saturday. I don’t think we were at the races from the beginning, and that can’t happen.”
Barnes also would not accept there was any excuse from a below-strength XI or the peculiarities of a cup competition.
“There’s no defense,” he added. “Whether you’re playing in the Open Cup, the World Cup or just five-a-side in training, you have to have the same desire to win. We have to accept that as players because it’s our fault. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask 'Did we do enough today?’ And no one can say that they did.
“Jason being the man that he is will probably want to take the blame, but it’s our duty. We’re the people that he put on the pitch. It was our duty to do him justice, and we didn’t. We didn’t do the fans justice, and we didn’t do the club justice, so we’ve got to get ready and firing again for Saturday.”