Sebastian Velasquez vs. St Mirren

New York City FC striving to end Manchester trip on a high

MANCHESTER, England | New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis is hoping to finish the Manchester leg of preseason on a high after an “incredible” experience in the United Kingdom.

The Club takes on Brondby at 7 a.m. EST Sunday as the last act of their week overseas before flying back to the United States, where three more matches await in Charleston, S.C., ahead of the regular season kickoff on March 8.

Kreis said he was delighted with the effects of the trip, and believes it has helped foster team spirit as well as improve understanding on the field.

“It’s been incredible to get an eye-opening experience about what it is to be a part of this club, to be welcomed in the way that we have and to be made to feel like this is our home,” he said. “That has been awesome. It’s been awesome for our guys to be in this environment and to see how soccer-mad this country is and how much it means to people. We were able to go a to a Manchester City game – most of our guys went to two – that’s been super.

“Plus, I think the other part of it is being in a foreign country together, taking all our meals together and the guys spending a lot of time together. For example, on the buses to training and back. I think that time has been used very well by the players to really help the team chemistry move along.”

Now preparing his players for the second of two preseason tests at City Football Academy, Kreis admits he was particularly pleased with the clean sheet in the 2-0 victory over St Mirren on Feb. 10.

While the first part of the training camp in Florida focused on defensive work, attention has now firmly turned to attacking, and the coach is hoping for his team to be even more deadly on offense against Brondby than they were against the Scottish Premiership outfit.

“Since we’ve been here we’ve mostly been talking about attacking ideas,” Kreis said. “We did spend one day reviewing defensive work but most of the time we’ve been emphasizing attacking. Coming away from that game I was honestly a bit surprised that we created that many good chances.

“On another night we walk out winners by three or four goals at least. There were two that should have been goals if we were a little sharper. So we had good attacking ideas and good attacking chances, but I do think we struggled to be a little sharper in that final third and that takes time.

“It will continue to take time and it won’t be solved by this Sunday but it doesn’t need to be – our season starts in three weeks so we have some time and we’ll be continuing to improve beyond opening day as well.”

The coach is refusing to allow himself to get caught up in any talk of first wins. The emphasis for him remains firmly on preparing for the league season to start next month in Orlando.

“For me, the first game is against Orlando City on March 8, so this will be another practice match. But it’s another terrific opportunity for us to evaluate how our players are doing, evaluate how we’re doing as a group, to work out whether we’re accomplishing all our objectives and to learn.

“I’m very hopeful that we will have a positive performance and we will continue to improve. There’s still a lot of room for us to build.”