Kreis subs stunned David Villa over injury concerns

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

HARRISON, N.J. – Down two goals with over 20 minutes to play, New York City FC coach Jason Kreis stunned everyone with his decision to sub star striker David Villa for youngster Patrick Mullins in the 68th minute.

And none was more stunned than Villa himself.

The legendary Spanish striker strolled off the pitch in disbelief, shooting his coach a dissenting look before taking his place on the bench with a scowl that spoke louder than any words could.

Mullins would score shortly there after to put the game within reach, but that is as far as it went for NYCFC.

Afterwards, the question was why? With the feeling of controversy swirling over the substitution, Kreis explained the move was not performance based.

“I think David was a little frustrated on the night. He’s coming back from an injury and he’s got a bit of rust to knock off. At the end of the day, we have to make decisions that are a little bit more ‘future-thinking’ than just about trying to get a result tonight,” Kreis explained. “At 70 minutes, the decision was made [to] protect him for the next one and keep him healthy.”

The 33-year-old striker has been hampered with injuries for weeks. First, it was an adductor strain that kept him out of action. Then, his hamstring became a bother, forcing Villa to miss even more time.

This time, however, Villa felt like he was ready to change his fortunes. After the match, the former Spanish international said he was ready to play “the full 90 minutes,” but ultimately, his fate relied on the boss.

“I wanted to keep playing, but [Kreis] did it for my own good knowing I have been injured the last few weeks, and obviously, I can’t miss any more time with the team,” Villa said after the match. “He wanted to take care of me, he wanted not to force additional minutes so I could continue recuperating and everyday I feel better. He did it for my well being and that of the club.

“I didn’t get it at first but he explained it to me later and it’s not a problem. It was for my good and the good of the club.”

A quick turnaround certainly may have played a part in the decision as well. NYCFC are scheduled for yet another shortened week with yet another nationally televised match, this time against Chicago at Yankee Stadium on Friday. Villa’s presence will be key as the club work to break their unsightly eight match winless run.

“Jason is the boss. He is my boss and he decided the best option for me and the club and there is nothing more to explain,” Villa concluded. “I am thankful that he told me why.”