(New York City FC’s Chris Wingert, David Villa, and Head Coach Jason Kreis – Photo by Jason Schott)
The New York Red Bulls beat New York City Football Club 2-1 in their first-ever meeting on May 10th at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. on Sunday, the teams meet again in the second installment of the New York Derby at Yankee Stadium.
That game was arguably the high point for the Red Bulls, as they did not win another game in MLS competition until this past Wednesday, when they beat Real Salt Lake 1-0. They enter the game with 20 points and a record of 5-5-5.
New York City FC was in the middle of an 11-game winless streak when they lost to the Red Bulls, but they have turned things around and enter the game on a three-game winning streak. NYC FC has 17 points on the season and a record of 4-7-5.
Head Coach Jason Kreis, captain and forward David Villa, and defender Chris Wingert were on hand at the Heinken House on Thursday afternoon to address the media ahead of the game. The Heineken House, located at West 14th Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan, will be open all weekend to promote MLS Rivalry Week.
Jason Kreis said of the burgeoning rivalry between NYC FC and the Red Bulls, and the first meeting on May 10th, “The first meeting there was a terrific night, a terrific event. I thought the crowds for both teams were particularly supportive and loud and created a tremendous atmosphere for a game and, for this game coming up, we’re all looking very much forward to it. Our team is in a little bit of a good run, feeling much better about ourselves, and after the match at Toronto, I thought what was interesting was the players in the locker room immediately talking about this weekend’s game, so it’s a big, big match for us. We’re excited about the fact that we have 40,000 people already with tickets to the game, hopefully we’ll get to 48,000, and I think it’s an event that we should all feel very proud to be a part of.”
Kreis said of the preparation for this game being different than others, “I don’t know that it’s different than any other big match that you’re a part of. You could feel the energy in the training sessions. You could feel the focus of the players, that they know that they’re a part of a very big week, and it makes it not easy as a coach. Sometimes, you’re in the middle of the week and you’re playing a game that feels like it’s not so important against an opponent that maybe doesn’t want to play away and you’re feeling you’re selling nice decibels and asking for effort from the players. In these sorts of weeks, you know that you don’t have to do that, they’re very enjoyable for coaches.”
Kreis said of the difference with his team heading into this game compared to where they were six weeks ago, “I think that this group has discovered a little bit about itself and I think that we are starting to develop an identity about who exactly we are and are going to be for the rest of the season. We are now, I think, just coming to the point where we have spent the requisite amount of time together so that the players have an understanding of how each other plays and where each other are going to be at all times, both when we have the ball and don’t. I feel like we’re at a big moment right now, that we’re just feeling quite a bit more confident about who we are, but also I think it’s a group that recognizes that we need to continue to try and improve, that all of these games in front of us are critically important if we want to, at the end of the season, be where we all kind of expected or thought we would be, and that’s with a chance to make it to the playoffs.”
Chris Wingert said of the rivalry with the Red Bulls and the fact they have played each other already, “It definitely adds to it. I think that rivalries are created in different ways, some of them are geographic, which certainly is the case here. We had that a bit with Colorado when I was out in Salt Lake and, but I think the best rivalries are really developed over time because of all the big matches you play, and hopefully that’s going to be the case between us and the Red Bulls as we move forward in the coming years.
“First matchup certainly wasn’t ideal for us in terms of the scoreline, but it was a fantastic night I think for the fans, the atmosphere. Res Bull Arena is a great place to play and people came out in big numbers and it seemed like everyone was really excited about the night. So, hopefully we can continue to grow that, and it sounds like that’s already the case with selling 40,000 tickets and we’re looking forward to it,” said Wingert.
David Villa said of the rivalry with Red Bulls, “No, it’s not personal, but we do want to win. There’s a New York City rivalry of course and we’re going to fight for the three points, but ultimately we want our fans to be proud of being New York City fans, and it’s clear that if we have a good game, we’ll get those three points.”
Villa said of the differences is between playing in Europe and the United States, “At the end of the day, soccer is the same, the biggest difference to me would be the format of the league. Overall, I am enjoying my experience. I’m very happy here, I’m happy to see the fans at the stadium, there’s a lot of passion for the game here. It’s definitely what I was looking for when I came here. The competition is at a great level.”