PURCHASE, N.Y. – Jason Kreis has a vision for New York City FC, but it’s one that has changed, especially tactically, since the start of the season.
“I wanted this team to be a diamond in midfield, and a lot of the players we’ve recruited were guys, especially in the Expansion Draft, would be really good in that system,” Kreis said. “But then going through preseason we made a pretty quick identification that perhaps that wasn’t going to be the best system for these players.”
And for a head coach who admits patience isn’t one of his best qualities, there could be more storm clouds on the horizon as NYCFC prepare to face off against crosstown rivals New York Red Bulls for the first time, Sunday at Red Bull Arena (7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1, FOX Deportes in US, TSN2 in Canada).
“We’re trying to build something here truly special, and that’s not going to happen over the first three games, the first six games, the first nine games,” Kreis said. “It’s going to take a whole season-plus, I think.”
Kreis said establishing the team’s ethos goes beyond wins and losses.
“For us, as members of this club and people who are trying to establish a culture, not just a team to win one game in one week, to establish an identity that will last a very long time that fans can get behind and be really proud of for a very long time requires us to be bigger men, to be leaders, to look for positives and to continue to move forward, try to improve week by week,” Kreis said.
The building process is much different than it was when he was hired to take over as Real Salt Lake coach eight years ago.
“At Salt Lake, at the time I took over the team, they fired the general manager and the head coach,” Kreis said. “It was literally myself and the owner, and we spun our wheels pretty hard to try to figure things out that first year.”
Even after Garth Lagerway was hired as RSL general manager, Kreis called almost all the shots as RSL built up its identity.
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That’s not the case with NYCFC.
“I was given full reins on how to do things, and I could say this is how I want it to be here,” Kreis said. “Here I prefer it to be, ‘What do we want to be,’ and that involved Claudio, the people higher and up and some of the key players.”
While Kreis said he’s had many sleepless nights during the expansion team’s seven-match winless streak, he lauds the players for their effort, even in the toughest of times. That work ethic, as well as the way the team has played stylistically, has Kreis encouraged.
“In every match, I haven’t seen one player decide to quit,” Kreis said. “I’ve looked around the league and have seen some other teams quit in games. To have our team not have done that means a lot to me, and that keeps me going.”