New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis was Real Salt Lake's first-ever player and goal scorer and led the club to the 2009 MLS Cup as head coach. New York City FC defender Chris Wingert made 222 appearances for RSL between 2007-14.
The duo were back in familiar territory as New York City FC played Real Salt Lake on May 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"It was odd. It was definitely odd to be on the other side of the bench, the other side of the field," Kreis said. "It was odd to look out at all those players and see that they were opponents and not my players. But that was really about it. Obviously I think a terrific crowd again, great atmosphere for a game. I tried to enjoy it as much as I could and certainly that’s not going to be much when you lose 2-0."
“It was a little bit strange," Wingert said. "The visitors locker room, and not to be coming out of the tunnel with those guys. But it was nice to be back besides the result. Obviously it was really disappointing for our group. But besides that it was nice to be back here and see everybody, and just get a minute to thank the fans.”
Wingert was replaced by Connor Brandt, who was making his professional debut, in the 81st minute and left the field to a standing ovation by the local supporters. Following the match, the New York City FC defender swapped jerseys with former teammate Kyle Beckerman and took a lap around the field thanking his former fans.
"Me and Kyle played side by side for a full decade because we were in Colorado together, and came here at the same time," Wingert said. "We were here for eight seasons. It is a strange feeling but we know how the business works and I went back to New York was a good opportunity for me to be closer to my family, and be part of great club like NYCFC. And RSL was really great to me all along and even beyond the end. They still are great to me. I miss everybody here and I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with a classy organization like Real Salt Lake.”
Saturday's match was a homecoming for a number of players and staff at New York City FC. Sebastian Velasquez, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Mehdi Ballouchy, Josh Saunders and Ned Grabavoy all played for RSL. Assistant coaches Miles Joseph and CJ Brown, Head Athletic Trainer Kevin Christen and Equipment Manager Danny Laroche used to work for the Utah-based club as well.
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Real Salt Lake head coach Jeff Cassar was an assistant under Kreis and took over for him following Real Salt Lake's 2013 MLS Cup runner-up finish.
"Looking down and seeing Jason at the other end, that was awesome," Cassar said. "Seeing Miles and CJ, all the guys was extremely special.”