Nick Cushing has urged his New York City side to use the disappointment of Saturday’s defeat to Philadelphia Union as a learning curve.
The Boys in Blue fell to a 3-1 home reverse at Citi Field, bringing our impressive unbeaten home record to an end, as the visitors struck through a Julián Carranza double and Dániel Gazdag penalty to cancel out Gabriel Pereira’s opener.
Conceding twice in the final minutes of the first half, the home side were left chasing the game and could not find a route back into the contest after Gazdag made it three from the spot.
Reflecting on the result, Head Coach Cushing asserts lessons must be learned from the setback.
“I thought we started the game well, I thought they tried to make the game difficult for us,” he said.
“How we thought the game would be: they would try and block the center of the pitch. We had a gameplan and we started to apply it, started to attack the game with our wingers – Gabriel Pereira was excellent.
“We had the game where we wanted it. Before their first goal, we probably should have scored a second. It would have made the game a lot easier, but we’ve lost the game in the period before the second half.
“Before their first goal, we were applying our gameplan very well: we were dominating the ball, getting into really good offensive areas – we created the chance with Andres Jasson at the backpost, we had the Gabriel Pereira chance, we had a great chance off set-play…
“We know this Philadelphia team are going to be direct, are going to put us under pressure, play off set-plays… We know the way they play and if you lose focus for moments, it can make the game difficult.
“They had two moments in the game and in our league, the margins are so small, the game swings. We know we’re in a game at 1-0… We have control of the game, and the game swings.
“Half-time was trying to focus on the small moments when they have those attacks, and continue to put them under pressure and create chances – we were creating many chances, many moments… You get chances but the suckerpunch comes with the moments and the penalty.
“This team has to learn from these moments, individuals have to learn from these moments because that is how you become a team that is mature, that can be under pressure; that can retain leads.
“We’re going through that process. They’re really frustrated – you can see the frustration in there at half-time, and at the end of the game.
“It’s painful learning, but what I see following all of these difficult moments is a team that is really trying to work hard to learn and improve in these areas.
“Those areas that we need to improve are still the same – we are just coming up against different styles of teams, and Philadelphia are a really mature team, a really direct team.
“If we score the second goal tonight – it wouldn’t make the game easier because Philadelphia would still be direct, putting us under pressure – but it gives you breathing room, and more control.
“We’re a young team, a new team, and we have to be more resilient. In those moments after the first goal, we have to show real maturity to keep the game at 1-1, and continue to apply the gameplan.”
Cushing also shared updates on Mitja Ilenič, Richy Ledezma and Thiago Martins.
Ilenič had been set to start the game but was replaced by Tayvon Gray after the warm-up, while Ledezma and Martins were brought off in the second period through injury.
“It was incredibly frustrating to lose a guy in the warm-up,” Cushing added. “Those moments when you lose important guys put the team under pressure.
“It does change the game – you prepare a team to play with those players the day before a game. Tayvon is a good player – he gives the team defensive solidity – but it’s frustrating to lose a guy before a game.
“[With Mitja] and his ability to attack the game, at times it’s like having two wingers when you put him with Gabriel Pereira because of his speed and the way he can attack the game.
“We brought Richy off because he got an injury in the [NYCFC] goal. He ran it off, but was feeling pain when continuing to play.
“Thiago Martins has knee pain. He’ll be in tomorrow, and then he’ll be scanned. We’ll have a look at it, he’ll see our physios and we’ll assess it, but at the moment it’s early. He’s in pain at the moment.
“We have to turn the guys around physically and make sure they’re recovered well [for the FC Cincinnati game on Wednesday]. The likes of Braian Cufré, Justin Haak, those guys are ready in case we need to put them in.”
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