The two newest MLS teams will be facing each other for a third time this season as New York City FC travels to the sunshine state to take on Orlando City SC on Sunday August 28th (7pm EST on FS1).
While the match is certainly important for New York, who have the ability to take back first place in the Eastern Conference as Toronto FC lost 1-0 to Montreal Impact last night, it is undoubtedly more important for Orlando City. With 9 games left in the regular season the Lions find themselves in the midst of a heated playoff race. Dropping points in home matches could mean the difference between being above or below the red line come October.
It will also be the first time Jason Kreis faces NYCFC since being unceremoniously sacked after an 8th place finish in the Eastern Conference during the 2015 campaign. While people may believe that this would be a source of motivation for Kreis, he has denied that his personal motives will be in play this Sunday. He has put much more emphasis on Orlando City's playoff push, as they are sitting 4 points below DC United for the last playoff spot (with a game in hand).
To lay to rest any doubt people might have about his stance, Kreis said this in an interview documented on mlssoccer.com:
"No, there’s nothing extra -- and, regardless of if there is on my part, it doesn’t necessarily mean I can motivate the players to be in line with my motivations. So, for me, it has to be just another game. It happens to be a game against a very good opponent, but it’s another home match for us in which we’re looking to improve.
"From my point of view, it’s simply another opportunity to show improvement and to hopefully get three points in a critical time in our season. It’s not about me and it’s not about the opponent."
Kreis' focus has been with new team all week and it looks like his personal feelings of what happened to him last season have played no part in his process to prepare for this match. The best way for him to get back at his old team, after all, would be to take all 3 points and deny New York City FC the chance to take back top spot in the east.
Even if Kreis is saying that this match is just one of 34 in the regular season, his players have gone to bat for him. Multiple players, including Joe Bendik and Brek Shea, have quotes later in the article saying that they realize going up against a former team is always important and that they would love to give him 3 points.
The results haven't quite been there for Orlando since Kreis took over (1-3-2 or 6 points in 6 matches) but obviously the players have bought into him as a manager. A win against one of the strongest squads in MLS could be just what the doctor ordered for the Lions.
for New York, a positive result not only inches them closer to securing a more desirable playoff spot but it also will help in the race for a possible spot in the 2017-2018 CONCACAF Champions League.