Nick Cushing hailed New York City’s character, fight and resilience in Wednesday night’s draw at Orlando City SC.
The Boys in Blue salvaged a precious point at Exploria Stadium with a last-minute Gabe Segal goal – his first for the Club on his 22nd birthday – to end a five-game road stretch on a positive note.
Battling back late on to cancel out Ercan Kara’s early opener, the Head Coach was full of praise for his squad’s spirit and hopes the team can build on the hard-earned result.
“We’ve got a point, and we’re really pleased with the point, but I’m more pleased with the character of the group, and the resilience,” he reflected.
“This is the most difficult place we’ve been – out of Toronto, Charlotte, Cincinnati, and Red Bulls, this is the most difficult game we’ve had, and to come out of it with a point is a huge positive for our team.
“We rely on individual ability, but we also rely on our ability as a team. I thought we really showed how we’re growing, and how we're learning through this difficult period.
“The margins are really small – you see we start slow, we go 1-0 down. At 1-0, it can be 2-0 but Luis Barraza makes a world-class save...
“The likes of Talles Magno and Santiago Rodríguez showed how important they are, how much we rely on them to really dig in and dictate games offensively for us. You see that if they do that, we can be a very dangerous football team.
“Talles was out of the [starting] team, and after putting him in, he really showed the energy and effort for the team, which is the minimum requirement for one of our players. He really showed his ability with the ball, he was dangerous. He plays the game for assists and goals, and to get [an iassist] in that moment, I’m pleased for him.
“We don't have seven, eight of those really experienced guys that know MLS inside out – what we do have is a lot of talent, and a lot of potential talent, and I think they really made a step.
“I think we've learned the capability of the team – we've seen that when we show maturity and we show resilience, we can get back into games that are really difficult on the road.
“We know that we're capable of getting back into games – we're capable of coming back from 1-0 – and we know that we're capable of digging in really deep, and making sure that we cope with the slow start, we cope with the fact that Orlando are a good team (and they can get the ball wide, and they have big number nines that can attack crosses), but also we can get a foothold in the game, and we can create some chances ourselves.
“We've shown the capability of ourselves that when we don't do it, we make the game difficult for ourselves. When we do it, we can get a point, and I think if we'd have just scored a little bit earlier in the game, we'd have gone on and won the game.”
Cushing also praised super sub Segal’s impactful contribution, as the youngster – introduced at half-time – slid home the leveler with just a minute of normal time remaining to celebrate his birthday in style.
The Head Coach stated it was no more than the 22-year-old deserved for his tireless work ethic and positive attitude.
“I’m really pleased for Gabe because he works like an animal!” he said. “He works so hard, he’s so honest, and he was due a chance.
“He said at half-time when I put him in: ‘I’ll score!’ and I love this guy’s attitude. He’s exactly what we need at our Football Club.
“I was pleased with the goal because just personally for him, he really deserves a goal. He is a such a team guy – whether he’s picked or not – and I’m a believer in life that when you do that, it pays back. It paid back for him, on his birthday as well, which was a really good present!
“I’m just so pleased we showed resilience. We’ve made a step, but it’s only one step. We still haven’t won a game on the road, so we have to be realistic – it’s a tie, and it’s a good result because we were one down, but we still have work to do with a young team, and a new team.
“The team has seen what happens when you dig in. We can’t just have the perfect game every week, where we have the ball and we create moments and we win – this is MLS.
“You have to grind at home and away, and the Philly game at home will be no different. I think the team has shown that It has made a step in its maturity – it’s shown how you grind games out – but it’s down to us now to learn from it, and to harness that, and to grow as a football team.
“If we do that, we’ll have more chances to tie in these difficult games on the road, maybe winning them, and win more home games.”
With a bye this weekend, New York City Football Club have a ten-day break before our next game: a home fixture against Philadelphia Union at Citi Field.
The clash kicks off at 7:30pm ET on Saturday, May 27, and tickets are available.
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