In a setting that seemed like a low budget game show, MLS expansion team coaches Jason Kreis of New York FC, and Adrian Heath of Orlando FC were joined by host Jimmy Conrad Wednesday afternoon, to decide which of the teams will pick first in eight player acquisition methods.
When an Orlando fan plucked her club’s logo out of a raffle drum, the first choice of Player Acquisition methods went to the Florida side, and coach Adrian Heath happily elected to pick ahead of New York in the December 10 expansion draft.
With Conrad, the former MLS and U.S. Men’s National Team player turned entertainer/ journalist, acting as m.c., the game show comparisons became unavoidable when Kreis mistakenly elected to pick before Orlando in the Discovery Ranking category.
Realizing his error, a sheepish Kreis admitted that he had intended to choose the USL PRO/NASL Priority Player Ranking. Channeling his inner Alex Trebek, Conrad asked an MLS official for a ruling. Amid guffaws, the verdict was handed down, Kreis would have to live with his choice.
Kreis’s faux paus is unlikely to have a significant detrimental effect on New York FC’s long term success, but the detail oriented former Real Salt Lake coach is unlikely to feel good about his slip up.
When the dust cleared, Orlando emerged with the higher pick in the College SuperDraft, the USL PRO/NASL Draft and the Lottery Ranking, in addition to the expansion draft. Afterwards via a conference call with the press, both coaches seemed happy enough with the results. Orlando’s Heath was pleased that the Lions will have the chance to add some experience, while Kreis contended that he and NYC got what they wanted, to pick first in the allocation process.
What Kreis did not want to discuss was recent speculation that NYC FC Designated Player Frank Lampard might consider extending his loan with parent club Manchester City. Kreis shut down that line of inquiry, saying that the conference was not the forum to answer that question, before adding, “there is no truth to that rumor at all.”
Kreis’s refusal to discuss the topic further left unasked, and therefore unanswered, the question of exactly who is in charge of Lampard’s contract. Lampard has been slated all along to report to the fledgling New York club for January training camp, where the veteran’s presence would be a boon to Kreis and his staff as the club take their first steps toward the 2015 MLS season.
If Lampard is still in Manchester come January, it reintroduces the possibility that NYC FC is meant to serve as a junior club for the English Premier League Champions, a scenario that all concerned were eager to dismiss when the franchise was awarded to the Manchester City/New York Yankee group last May.
The clubs differing approaches, and pedigrees were evident in the teams selection’s, as well as in the comments of the managers. In addition to DP Kaka, Orlando has six players from this season’s USL PRO squad under contract for its MLS debut season, with three more expected to sign on in the coming weeks. Heath, who will be making the jump up from the second tier USL PRO League to Major League Soccer along with his team, stressed the need for Orlando to add players with MLS experience to his young squad.
“For us,” Kreis said, “allocation was number one.” And with the financial backing of Manchester City and the New York Yankees behind him, it is little surprise that Kreis came into yesterday with a different agenda than his counterpart in Orlando. NYC’s selection of the allocation ranking immediately gave rise to speculation that the club had its eye on a particular player, with one reporter throwing U.S. international Jozy Altidore’s name into the mix.
Of course, the New York supremo would not comment on individual players, but following yesterday’s festivities, the countdown is on as the MLS teams 20 and 21 continue to assemble their rosters for a March 2015 kickoff.