Even though this was his first trip back to the Bronx as the Lions' manager, that drive wanes after each meeting with New York City FC, who he led in the club’s inaugural season two years ago.
“Each game we play against New York City, the emotions for me are less and less. The attachment is less and less, to the point where this week I didn’t have any extra motivation,” Kreis said after the 2-1 win at Yankee Stadium, his third meeting with City since becoming Orlando's manager last July.
“For me it was just about trying to get our team to have a solid road performance – its only our second road game – and to show that we can win away.”
That said, Kreis did use some of what he learned – both about the unique setup of the field at Yankee Stadium and his previous engagement with NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira when he led the Manchester City youth setup – to his advantage Sunday.
“I think you won’t find a coach that will be more familiar with this field than me. There’s something about the dimensions and the size of it that we tried to play to our strengths,” Kreis said. “Obviously I’m very, very familiar with how Patrick wants to play, after watching him in Manchester for four or five months coaching his team there. We did go into the game with a very clear game plan.”
Kreis, who parted ways with NYCFC after the club failed to reach the playoffs following a tumultuous inaugural season, stopped short of saying the game plan was the reason for the 2-1 win that put his squad atop the Eastern Conference table with 15 points.
That’s where his players get the credit.
“I think it’s about that collective willingness to do whatever it takes,” he said. “When you see your strikers coming back to make defensive plays that they don’t necessarily want to make, when you see your midfielders diving in front of things to stop [shots]; obviously Joe [Bendik] continues to make the biggest saves when we need it at the biggest moments.”
What satisfied Kreis most was his team finding a way to win on the road, which only happened twice in the team’s previous 17 games away from home. While the form at their sparkling new stadium is sublime, now they have a road win to hang their hat on.
“A lot of the hype, or the word around town, is that we only have four wins because they were all at home,” Kreis said. “Now nobody can say that anymore.”