Head Coach Ronny Deila faced the media via virtual press conference on Thursday to discuss how NYCFC is preparing for their MLS is Back Tournament quarterfinal against the Portland Timbers on Saturday. “We are preparing good, we had two days that we’ve rested and restituted, and two exercises yesterday… we have Gedion and Isi out, but all the others are good and ready for the game” Deila said.
When asked about moving to the quarterfinals after their win against Toronto FC, and their hopes of moving to the last four of the tournament, Delia told the media: “We have to be stars, not fireflies, fireflies last for a day and stars last forever. You have to do the same things over and over again - then you’re going to be a top team.”
With questions on the condition of Maxi Moralez, following the news that Gedion Zelalem and Ismael “Isi” Tajouri-Shradi are out on injuries, Delia stated, “If Maxi is on the bench ready, he’s in the game, and I think he’ll be that. He’s a very important player for us, but nobody is good enough when they’re ninety percent, so we need to get Maxi at one hundred. He was one hundred percent when he came on and it made a big difference, and we want him for 90 minutes...” adding “It’s not about his fitness - his fitness is really good, but it’s about getting his injury right. That’s the problem he has, there’s some stiffness in his calf that’s coming and going a little bit, and that we have to sort out.”
Discussing the performance of Valentín “Taty” Castellanos, the media was curious to know what changes have been made to improve Taty and the team’s play overall, “We started to score on goal chances is one… we have been training hard for many months… and it’s about the team,” Deila reflected, “That everybody does their task and gets more familiar and safer in their roles and to understand what’s expected in the different roles, and of course, that we have good football players.
“Taty is a good presser, but the difference between what he did now, and what he did 3-4 games ago is he started to do his job. So, the discipline and conversation were really good, and the team's effort and desire were fantastic in the game. Of course, when you get more confidence as well you see lighter heads and quicker feet. There’s a lot of small things that are coming to our performance like that.”
With his vision focused on the upcoming match, Delia told reporters, “I see behind the results and I see good performances on the way as well, but we haven’t been effective enough. We need to improve things all the time and I think we have been improving. Everything is not perfect now either, we need to keep working, getting better. It’s easier to work when you’re winning of course, and we want to keep doing that in the next period.”
New York City FC vs. Portland Timbers starts tonight at 10:30PM ET (FS1 / TUDN / NYCFC.com/Radio).