ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — They will forever be linked as the first two coaches of New York City Football Club.
And although they’ve had their difference of opinions in the past, current NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said he has no issues with his predecessor, Orlando City SC coach Jason Kreis.
“I think we are good and we’re always going to be good,” Vieira said after NYCFC training Wednesday. “I think we are two professional people who need to win football matches because this is our job. Sometimes, yes, there is pressure because you want to win, but I think we never crossed the line. It’s all about the respect that I have for him.”
“Respect” was at the heart of the war of words last year between the two coaches. Kreis claimed Vieira didn’t show his Lions respect after Vieira said his side “were the better team” in a pair of losses to Orlando a year ago.
“I’m not quite sure, if you looked at the possession statistics, that they controlled the game,” Kreis said in post-match comments after NYCFC won 3-0 at Orlando last May. “I think it was darn near 50-50. In my opinion, I think that we as coaches need to do a better job in respecting our opponents after performances.”
Vieira dubbed that a “personal attack” and said it was something he wasn’t going to accept.
“I will accept everyone’s opinion because I say what I think and people can agree or disagree, but I stay on the field and give an opinion on the game,” Vieira said. “I think he should do the same and try to control himself a little bit more.”
While it’s unlikely they will share a bottle of Bordeaux wine in the near future, Vieira on Wednesday lauded the job Kreis has done this year in rebuilding the Lions, praising the acquisitions of Dom Dwyer, Sacha Kljestan and Josue Colman.
“He’s doing a really good job in Orlando and he won the title here and you don’t win it just like that,” Vieira said, referring to the MLS Cup Kreis won with Real Salt Lake in 2009. “He’s, I believe, one of the most experienced and one of the coaches who know better the league and he’s doing a really good job for Orlando.”
On Saturday, Vieira’s NYCFC will face Kreis’ Orlando for the second time this season. NYCFC won the first encounter, 2-0, on March 17 at Yankee Stadium. It was Kljestan’s first game back from suspension and the Lions were dealing with a bevy of injuries, including one to Dwyer.
When Dwyer returned a week later, Orlando fired off six consecutive wins. And although they’ve cooled off a bit lately with three straight 2-1 defeats — the last two without an injured Dwyer again — Vieira knows the Lions will be a tougher opponent than the one NYC saw two months ago.
“It’s going to be important for us to keep playing well,” Vieira said. “Our record at home is good. We have to keep playing with the same kind of intensity and philosophy.”