NEW YORK – Manager Jason Kreis didn’t mince words when it came to his feelings about New York City FC’s chances of making the playoffs and his team’s performance following a crushing 2-1 defeat to Columbus Crew SC on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
“I couldn’t be more disappointed. I think that’s the most succinct way to put it,” Kreis said. “Devastating for us to lose that game. Seven games left, 21 points available, I still think there has to be a glimmer of hope. But at the moment, it’s tough to see it.”
The expansion club now heads into a bye week before a final stretch of seven games that Kreis believes his team needs to win in order to make the playoffs.
“The players need to show if they want to be here and be a part of this because I know the coaching staff does,” Kreis said. “I know the coaching staff cares an awful lot about this club and the job we’re attempting to do. I’m not so sure all the players do.”
NYCFC star Frank Lampard, who was making his first start at Yankee Stadium, didn’t agree with Kreis’ assessment.
“I respect the manager for saying that,” he said. “Managers and players should be emotional after defeats at times. … There’s an all-around spirit in the camp and I don’t see a problem at all. You’ll have to ask every individual, but I don’t feel that. All I feel is something’s off on the pitch, we’re not getting the results and the consistency, but for me it’s not for the want of trying.”
Lampard made his second start for NYCFC after missing the last three matches with a quad injury suffered when he said he rushed himself back from a calf strain. He played 60 minutes on Saturday, the maximum amount agreed upon with Kreis and the medical staff, before being replaced by Kwadwo Poku.
Kreis said the decision not to start Poku, who was influential in a win over D.C. United and in the draw against Columbus 10 days ago, was a tactical one.
“I can’t be at my best, I’ve only trained for days, rather than weeks,” Lampard said. “This is a perfect break for me to get some good training in for two weeks.”
While the task seems daunting, Andrea Pirlo said the key is to take each game on its own, beginning with a match at FC Dallas on September 12.
“It’s seven important games we have to play, but we have to think of one at a time,” Pirlo said through a translator. “They are all hard, but I’m sure if we think of winning one at a time, you do one and you think of the next.”
Dylan Butler covers New York City FC for MLSsoccer.com.