Nick Cushing hailed New York City’s resilience and fighting spirit in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Nashville SC.
The Boys in Blue overcame the league’s meanest defense to triumph at Citi Field, thanks to first-half goals from Keaton Parks and Maxime Chanot.
The squad also produced a battling display to stave off late pressure from the visitors, who pulled a goal back through Hany Mukhtar and rallied in search of an equalizer.
Speaking after the game, Cushing was delighted with the victory, praising his team’s efforts at both ends of the pitch.
“We know Nashville are defensively a really disciplined team,” he reflected. “The stats back that up – they’re the best in MLS at the moment – so we knew we’d have to disorganize the two central defenders, the two midfield players, and be at our best defensively.
“I thought we did that really well in the first half – we brought the build-up, we didn’t allow them to control us by sitting 4-4-2, controlling the spaces.
“The only disappointment is that we should have been three, or four up. Before we conceded the goal, the game should have been dead.
“Teams go direct, and they see a young team that are probably in the phase of building chemistry, and cohesion.
“They get a goal on 80 minutes, and we concede multiple moments in the box, but what’s really pleasing is that we showed we have the strength to suffer.
“We made a few tactical adjustments that we thought would help us compared to the first game, and we thought we passed the ball well up the field.
“When you get the likes of Richy Ledezma, and Gabriel Pereira on the ball, and these guys, you know you can create moments because they are the games they want – they want to get behind the midfield line, running at the backline, with their friends running.
“We get that game, the crowd feed off it, and that’s when we’re at our best.”
Cushing was also full of praise for midfielder James Sands, who the Head Coach believes produced a flawless performance in the wake of receiving his USMNT call-up earlier this week.
“For me, James Sands was 10/10 in this game,” he declared. “My worry for James lately had been his physical ability, based on the fact he didn’t play so many games for Rangers, but I thought he looked excellent.
“He physically looked good, he reads the game incredibly well, his decision-making on the ball is top level… What he brings to our team is that he gets the ball back. It sounds simple, but he is so effective at being in the right spaces, and being aggressive to get the ball back.
“He’s playing against the MVP [Hany Mukhtar] and I thought he kept him quiet for the majority of the game. We’re disappointed that he scored the goal, but this guy is always going to haunt every team.
“Mukhtar is a top level player, but I would go James Sands [for Man of the Match] because the guys in that midfield role don’t really get the credit, but he was 10/10 for me.”
The Head Coach also recognized the influence of the NYCFC home faithful, and their part in spurring the team onto victory at Citi Field.
“I definitely feel the atmosphere,” Cushing continued. “I said in the dressing room before: we know our crowd here feeds off our attacking play, and then we can get the ball in the box, we can start to play, and if we can get Gabriel, Richy, Talles [Magno] playing together, we know it will get the atmosphere up.
“I don’t know what it is, but we’ve had some really exciting games here. I love the feel here, the energy and the atmosphere, and our most favorite part is that when we win, we go over and we celebrate with the fans.
“We just hope we can do it again next week. It’s about rest, recovery and hard work, and we’ll have the same feeling next week if we put the performance in.”
NYCFC are back on home soil next weekend for the last match of our three-game home stand.
The Boys in Blue welcome FC Dallas to Citi Field on Saturday, April 22 in a 7:30pm ET kick-off.
Tickets for the game are now available. Don't miss your chance to cheer on the City Boys!
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