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Kreis questions NYCFC players’ motivations after playoff chances become slimmer

Photo by Greg Bartram/USA Today Sports


NEW YORK — Before he even began fielding questions on Saturday, Jason Kreis looked visibly disappointed in the press conference room.

It did not take him very long for him to express just how frustrated he really was.

New York City FC saw its chances of making the postseason become slimmer on Saturday afternoon following a 2-1 home loss to fellow Eastern Conference club Columbus Crew. NYCFC played better for longer stretches than it had in recent matches, but still was not able to find a way to pick up three points.

Justin Meram scored a late winner after the Crew capitalized on an NYCFC turnover in its own final third, leaving the expansion club in a bigger hole than it was in when the day started. New York City now has even fewer games to figure out how to move above the red line, and will have to wait until after its bye next week to return to the field.

For Kreis, the latter is not necessarily a bad thing. The NYCFC head coach thinks his team needs to take “a mental step back” before this final stretch of games, especially since some of his players are apparently lacking the necessary motivation right now.

“After that break we need to work really hard and we need to show — the players need to show — if they want to be here and they want to 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 that we’re attempting to do, but I’m not so sure that all the players do.”

While Kreis did not name anyone in particular, his comments mark the second straight week in which a member of NYCFC has made pointed remarks about the status of the team. David Villa, who did not speak to the press on Saturday, said after last week’s lopsided loss to the LA Galaxy that he needed teammates around his side who could help him.

NYCFC players in the locker room, however, disagreed with the sentiment from Kreis that some of them lacked motivation. Midseason acquisitions like Designated Players Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo did not see that, nor did others like Patrick Mullins who have been around since the beginning of the year.

“I think managers and players should be emotional after defeats at times and from where I’ve been, obviously I’m a fairly fresh face around the place, there’s a desire to be here,” Lampard said. “Every squad is the same that I’ve been in, and there’s some players that are not playing and they find it difficult. The players want to play, but as an all-around spirit in the camp, I don’t see a problem at all.

“You’d have to ask every individual, but I don’t feel that. All I feel is that something is off on the pitch, that we are not getting the results, not getting the consistency. For me, it’s not for the (lack) of trying.”

Added Mullins: “I look around, and I see guys that want to be here. I think everyone’s heart is in the right place, and I think that’s just a coach that just wants more out of his players. I respect him obviously for saying that and I’m not going to back down from it.”

Pirlo, for his part, sounded almost surprised that such a scenario could be presented.

“I would be very unhappy if that were true because if the people that are actually playing are not having fun and don’t want to be there, there are the reserves, the ones that are not playing, that really would love to play instead,” Pirlo said through a translator. “I think it’s important when you play to have fun, to really want to be there, so that you can do the best, and you can give the maximum you can to the team and the game.”

In any case, NYCFC needs to sort things out quickly if it wishes to have any shot at preventing its debut season from being deemed a failure. The club will likely need to win most, if not all, of its remaining games to have a realistic chance of moving above the red line, but even that might not be enough given the current circumstances.

“Seven games left, 21 points available,” Kreis said. “I think there still has to be a glimmer of hope, but at the moment it’s tough to see it.”


  1. The reporters go and ask Pirlo and Lampard about Kries’ comments.

    Nope they don’t see anyone that fits that bill. Well he isn’t wrong
    And everyone else is hussling….therefore?

  2. The Crew looked happy to be out of Columbus and moved around Yankee Stadium with steely purpose. They outpaced an NYCFC team that included Pirlo making short, deliberate passes to redirect play, but with little danger to the opposition. Lampard was irrelevant acting more like an expensive traffic cop pointing to his teammates where to move the ball. Isolating Villa seems to be a strategy not a result of build up play. Mix looked a little mixed up – much resolve with zero ideas. NYCFC needs a defensive mid with top flight football experience to reset play and improve on the overall deficiencies of Kreis’s current set up. And that would only begin to give this team some purpose and character.

  3. Anyone one make a wager on……if ManCity wants Lampard back as soon as MLS season is over, he suddenly no longer has an injury?

    • Zero chance. Lamps has nothing left. Pirlo started slow, but is coming on. Problem is City ownership buying 2 players based on what they HAVE done, instead of what they WILL do. A player like Steven Gerrard has support all around him, and isn’t asked to be “the man” at LAG. It was a ridiculously arrogant assumption that two near 40 year olds could arrive and boss the league.

  4. Pirlo let Higuain walk right by him on the header from the cross, no effort what so ever on defense. Lampard has been in and out of the lineup due to injury. Villa shows heart and doesn’t lack motivation.

    It doesn’t matter what people do in the past. It is your current mindset and hunger that determines your level of play. When you flip that switch in your head, your done. Pirlo is done, Lampard is getting his injuries worked out for a loan back to England in the offseason, Villa still has it but lacks support.

    • Pirlo has never been a good defender.

      A good manager understands that and works around it If that was so important then NYFC should never have signed him.

      A good manager works with what players can do and minimizes what they can’t do.

      Pirlo is still good enough for Italy so I don’t think he is done.

  5. I think saying Lampard is too slow for MLS when three months ago he did great for City is a bit misguided. From the games I’ve seen they don’t look organized nor do they hold their shape. Odd for a Kreis team. So either his message isn’t getting through, his tactics are off or they got the wrong players. None of which bodes well for Jason.

  6. So much for the notion that MLS is a “retirement league”.

    Lampard and Pirlo have had a couple of flashes here and there, but for the most part they’re getting owned. Younger, faster, more athletic, hungrier players are blowing past them right now and Lampard and Pirlo simply don’t work nearly hard enough to stop the turnstiles. People know they can get at those guys by pushing the ball aggressively up the field and they’re doing it.

    People complicate things, but soccer is just soccer…and MLS is getting better every year. And for its occasional technical deficiencies, MLS is fast.

    I’m less than sold Drogba will make an impact in Montreal either. I think like Lampard he came a couple years too late.

    These guys were great players, but without that fire in their bellies, MLS can be a nightmare, especially if you’re not coming into an established squad like LA Galaxy but a club like NYCFC that actually expects its DP’s to set the tone and carry the team. They just can’t…and so the team is going to take it on the chin until they clear these “legends” out much like their cross-town rivals did and just concentrate on building an actual team.

    If you can get a Giovinco at 27, or even a Villa at 32, sure, pull the trigger on a DP salary. But pull the trigger on a 37-year-old and expect him to hold up and you’re flushing millions down the drain and asking to be embarrassed.

    Definite sign of progress, for MLS.

    • NYCFC is a difficult team to gauge. The club has a lot of talent and I’m not talking just the DPs. However, they are not a team with the right mix players and that includes the DPs.

      The team is weak at its core but its supporting players are actually very good. The biggest problem with the team is Pirlo and the two center backs. Those three should represent a very tough barrier in front of Saunders, but instead they seem to leak goals.

      Pirlo does not play enough defense and while he may make a couple of world class passes during the game those do not make up for his inability to close down threats. The two Centerbacks are very mediocre both in terms of organization or in terms of man marking. They are not good enough to make up for Pirlo’s deficiencies.

      Lampard just hasn’t played enough to have been an impact this season. The delay in coming into NYCFC from Man City and then the injuries and the lack of fitness have made him a very expensive non factor. He may get back into form but by then the season will be over and next year he is 38.

      I don’t know how much control Kries has in collecting his players, but really the team would be much better off releasing Pirlo and perhaps Lampard and replacing them with the type of quality players that are worth the kind of money NYCFC has spent.

      The other major weakness with the Centerback also has to be addressed, but that will have to wait to next season.

      Right now, NYCFC just does not look like a playoff team.

      • I actually like a lot of their players. Villa, obviously. Mullins is underrated and underutilized, so is Shelton. They need to play a 4-4-2 with the strikers they have but the midfield and defense is so porous they can’t.

        I like Mix (sorry, still do), McNamara, Velasquez, and Andrew Jacobson at midfielder – lot of very good young players in there – and I really like Poku. What seems to be missing is steel in midfield and somebody who will actually track back and cover…there isn’t one, so NYCFC’s weak CB pairing is getting even more exposed. NYCFC is also painfully ordinary at fullback.

        Good attacking options, less than zero on defense. Definitely not a complete squad. I’d jettison Pirlo and Lampard yesterday and go get a pair of cold-eyed, veteran CB’s out of the EPL or Bundesliga for a tenth the price, and be twice the squad.

        Easy fix, let’s see if they actually do it.

    • I would say Pirlo held up pretty fine in the CL final a couple months ago.

      It’s not that he’s too old for the MLS, or that the MLS is now so good that there’s no room for greatly talented 37 year olds, he just needs to play for a team that can utilize his skillset (e.g. pair him with a #6 that can do the dirty work for him). NYCFC is not that team.

      • Wait a minute. Are you saying Mix is not as good as Paul Pogba?

        What are you some kind of self loathing USMNT fan with an inferiority complex?

    • The main thing that makes sense in your rant is that NYFC are not a very good team.

      And they weren’t one before Lampard and Pirlo got to town.

      Lampard was doing very well at Manchester City; he didn’t turn into garbage overnight.

      Villa is an excellent player but it is very hard to organize a team from the forward position.

      Kreis needs to do a better job at integrating the DP’s with the guys making a lot less money. Arena can do it so Jason should be able to handle it as well.

      • Then he had better learn fast and put on his big boy pants if he wants to manage the same kind of high powered, star driven, mega money operation that NYFC is clearly aiming at being.

      • The biggest difference is that Bruce Arena is hand picking the players he’s bringing in. Kreis is stuck having to deal with decisions made by absentee owners. He definitely doesn’t have as much say as he was used to on RSL about who’s on the team.

      • Silver Rey,

        I don’t know about the behind the scenes with the Bruce or with Kreis.

        I was under the impression that the NYFC powers that be hired Kreis because he was a proven, title winning MLS manager and they wanted the best.

        When you have that rep and you hook up with a high powered bunch like these NYFC people then you know, or should know, that you produce, and soon, or you are gone.

        Kreis has been there a while now so he has to know what is going on.

        If he doesn’t get the big stars like Villa, Lampard and Pirlo to buy into him then I hate to tell you but he will be gone, as they say, in a New York minute.

        Next man up. .

    • I didn’t see the game the game but that’s all I need to know. In fact, I’m surprised he’s still playing, lol.

  7. Perhaps Lampard should get his man boobs under control before reacting negatively to warranted, team wide criticism of dedication?


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