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“A lot of respect” for Jason Kreis as the Orlando gaffer takes on NYCFC for the first time

Ahead of Sunday’s reunion with their former coach, Vieira’s boys are saying all the right things.

Jason Kreis pulled R.J. Allen off the street.

Almost literally.

“Obviously, he’s the guy who brought me in,” Allen told MLSSoccer.com this week from the NYCFC practice facility at SUNY Purchase. In the spring of 2015, Allen went from coaching with Staten Island United, a New York City FC youth affiliate, to suiting up at right fullback against the star-laden Seattle Sounders under the Yankee Stadium lights.

“I have a lot of respect for [Kreis] and I thank him for the opportunity,” Allen said. “I think a lot of people had no doubt he would eventually find another team to coach for. He’s a great manager.”

Kreis’s keen eye for undervalued talent has paid off: Allen has made multiple MLS Teams of the Week in the famous Etihad shirt, and was named NYCFC’s Player of the Month for May 2016.

And among the rank and file, Allen isn’t alone in his high regard for the coach that dared to give him a shot.

“We didn’t accomplish the goals we wanted to, but I enjoyed the work environment that we were in under that staff,” Tommy McNamara said of the fractured inaugural campaign.

Kreis took a flier on McNamara in late 2014. The former Chivas USA starlet tore his ACL after a bright start to his rookie year, and was left unprotected in the MLS Expansion Draft by DC United, who held his rights at the time.

Count Tommy Mac as another low-risk move that paid off in a big, big way. Naturally, he’s happy to see his old boss find a new club of his own.

“I was happy for the staff, happy they were able to land on their feet,” McNamara said.

HUMP DAY NOTES
  • Ronald Matarrita is back on the MLS Team of the Week after making his long-awaited return from injury for Saturday’s 1-0 win over L.A. Galaxy.
  • The dream continues: self-professed Liverpool fan Jack Harrison got to trade shirts with his favorite player, Steven Gerrard.
  • Don’t miss The Guardian’s new Jack Harrison profile. Not a ton of new info in there, but an emotionally resonant portrait of his family’s decision to depart the Manchester United Academy for an adventure on the other side of the Atlantic.
  • Orlando City, like the New York Jersey Red Bulls, have just one road win on the year, each against New York City.
  • That OCSC win in the Bronx -- a 1-0 affair on March 18th — is the only time the road team has won through five total meetings between the Lions and the Blues.