Nick Cushing expressed his delight at seeing Talles Magno's hard work rewarded with a goal against Orlando City.
The Brazilian forward entered Wednesday night's game in the 59th minute in place of the injured Richy Ledezma, and nine minutes later he doubled NYCFC’s advantage with a towering header past Pedro Gallese to make it 2-0.
It was the forward's fourth goal of the season for NYCFC and Cushing not only praised the player's impact against Orlando, but also his consistent hard work on the training pitch to prepare him for this moment.
“I'm so happy Talles because he deserves that moment and he deserves to be that guy that gets us over the line,” Cushing said.
“He won us the game tonight because the second goal really settled us down. He's worked incredibly hard – with Kleberson individually, with the team, he's doing extra work – and just really wants to be that guy.
“I think as coaches we always reflect on moments. We have guys like Talles and Julián Fernández that can be the difference. They’re team guys, but they have something different individually.
“My reflection on the derby was maybe I should have put him in earlier. Maybe he would have been the guy. We went with Julián and he had moments.
“I will always believe in Talles. We see it in training all the time. I say this to Talles all the time, if he consistently works hard and commits himself to this profession, he can do whatever he wants in the game.
“He has done that consistently since he hasn’t seen the field. Tonight I said to him when he came on, ‘You will score’ because you can’t work this hard and not succeed.
“I felt the emotion in the dressing room there. The boys will share this moment with him.”
The Boys in Blue recorded their third clean sheet in four games with Wednesday's win against Orlando. Those eight points have helped close the gap on those above them, and Cushing cited the groups' continued togetherness in the face of adversity as a major positive.
"This team is fighting and really believes, and it has a real desire," he said. Maybe we haven't put games away, but the team is learning all the way through.
"It was a huge opportunity tonight knowing that everyone had to play again. I thought from the start, we weren't really good with the ball, but we were really aggressive without the ball and really organized.
"I thought the team executed the game plan really well tonight."
He later added, "The one thing we haven't seen change [this season] is the commitment, the belief, the desire and the togetherness. I want to win football games, I want to win football games consistently, and I'm completely convinced this team's gonna go with a lot of football games.
"I understand we're not doing it now, but the one thing you cannot bottle for a team this team has. Ok, we missed goal chances, and we might have had crazy moments like the penalty straight after [scoring] against Vancvouer, but the one thing this team has is an incredible togetherness and moments like this are only going to help us.
"I said to the boys in the dressing room, though, it means nothing if we don't get three points against Toronto on Saturday. The situation we are in, the team that puts a run together will give themselves a real chance.
"We're unbeaten in four with three clean sheets. We've got to make sure we continue to score goals. If we score more than one goal, with the way we defend, I think we'll win football games."
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