New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis is tasked with having to adjust his squad this weekend due to not only international call-ups, but also injuries.
Forwards Adam Nemec and Khiry Shelton are away on international duty. Kreis is also without midfielder Sebastian Velasquez (groin) and possibly defender Josh Williams (precautionary) for Saturday’s match against 2013 MLS Cup Champion Sporting Kansas City.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Yankee Stadium (YES, 970AM, WADO).
“I’ve done a lot of preaching about how deep I think this team is, and I’ve said we have some really talented players who haven’t quite gotten big opportunities yet,” Kreis said. “With every injury or with every international call-up and every reason why there’s going to be players missing comes opportunity. I see this as a big opportunity for some guys.
“We have lots of quality players, especially midfielders, who haven’t had an opportunity to show what they’re about. Somebody will be getting a chance this weekend, for sure.”
Nemec, who has started all three games this season, will be representing the Slovak National Team for a Euro 2016 Qualifier against Luxembourg this afternoon. Shelton, who has come on as a sub in all three matches in 2015, was called up to the United States Under-23 side matches against Bosnia & Herzegovina (this morning) and Denmark (March 31).
“It is what it is,” Kreis said. “That’s the job you sign up for in this league – you have injuries, you have call-ups, you have things to deal with. It’s why you try to build a team as deep as you possibly can. I think we certainly are sorry we will be missing a few players, but for me, it represents an opportunity for others to step forward. I think there are some players who deserve that opportunity.”
Forward Patrick Mullins should see an increased role with Nemec and Shelton unavailable. The two-time Hermann Trophy winner at the University of Maryland found the back of the net in New York City FC’s 2-0 victory over New England in the Historic Home Opener on March 15.
Despite the roster limitations this week and possibility of a larger role, Mullins’ mentality and game plan remains constant.
“The goal stays the same and that’s contribute to the team in whichever way is possible that given day,” he said. “Whatever the lineup is on the day, then so be it.”
The mission is also to come away from Saturday’s match against Sporting KC (0-1-2; 2 points) with a victory.
“Obviously we’re looking to come back home and put another three points on the board,” goalie Josh Saunders said.
“We’re hoping for a big crowd, and not just a big crowd in terms of numbers, but a supportive crowd in terms of how loud they are,” Kreis said. “I thought it was fantastic in the first game and hopefully we can continue that going forward so the atmosphere can be very, very daunting for any opponent to walk in here and think they can walk away with anything.”
Sporting KC played the Portland Timbers to a scoreless draw on March 21, while New York City FC comes into Saturday’s match following consecutive shutouts.
To say they’ve been dominant defensive performances would be a bit of an exaggeration. The Revolution had 11 total shots (one on target), while Colorado had 21 chances (seven on target).
“We’re always going to be after the perfect game,” Kreis said. “The New England game lacked that perfect feel because there were at least 20 minutes in the first half after we scored the goal where they were all over us and frankly, deserved to score.
“It’s still a little bit of a work in progress. We’ve been giving up too many glaring goal-scoring chances for my liking, but at the end of the day, we managed to get shutouts along the way. It’s glass half-full right now.”