New York City Football Club Interim Head Coach Nick Cushing believes his side are in for a testing road game against Columbus Crew this weekend.
The Boys in Blue travel to Lower.com Field on Saturday night aiming to maintain their recent unbeaten streak that stretches to seven games in MLS. Caleb Porter's side were themselves on an impressive run of nine unbeaten before a 2-1 defeat to CF Montréal on Wednesday ended that. Cushing revealed on Thursday he did watch the game, and despite the loss, he anticipates a tough test for his in-form side.
"We know that the game is going to be difficult," he said. "We know when you go away to Columbus Crew it's a really difficult game, but we're also a good team. We've had some good performances there - I thought we played really well there last season although we didn't win the game - we just need to make sure that we're prepared. I think before last night, the game was set up for two teams that are really in form. If you look at recent results, there are lots of away draws and lots of wins at home for both teams. We're in good form, we're confident and we've had some good victories away from home and some good results. We've just got to make sure that we continue to prepare the team and the team continues to go in to away games prepared for a difficult game but ready to make sure that we compete."
Central to NYCFC's good run of form of late has been defensive strength. Club Captain Sean Johnson currently leads the league in clean sheets, while defensive duo Alex Callens and Thiago Martins have helped galvanize the spine of the team. Cushing was full of praise for his entire defensive unit but singled out new signing Thiago Martins as he continues to adjust to new surroundings.
"When you bring in a designated player you want that player to be a really important player for you," Cushing said of the Brazilian. "We wanted to bring in one in the back. He's started to really show his quality and his leadership. His performances have been excellent over the previous weeks. His partnership with Alex Callens, Sean Johnson, and Maxime Chanot when he's played have developed over the last five or six weeks and he's a really good guy. Ultimately the one thing that I think is really impressive with Thiago Martins is his professionalism and his desire to win for New York even though he's only been here half a season. He's a joy to work with. He's an excellent player and his performances have been really good recently."