NYCFC will once more take on a Giovannii Saverese coached team, this time it does count for a lot more than those games v his previous team, the NY Cosmos in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, more than 4x the money is at stake and though also not a game that counts on either MLS records, it is for one of their trophies, a million dollars and a spot in the ICC, so rest assured they will start their stars and play their DP's.
In an opening statement , but not really as it was a question poised by a team staffer, on how they prepared for the Timbers, NYCFC HC Ronny Delia informed they were preparing well, they had 2 days rest (they qualified for the next round with an earlier game), they had a pair of training sessions yesterday, one being strength, the other fitness, this day they were to work on soccer. Next one from the team was how big is the ICC, I fully agrree with his reply that it is very big, they are actually in it now for the first time, in the 2nd round, their loss was the last pro game played locally before a crowd. They are awaiting the scheduling of their next game in it, away, that meeting these foreign teams is always great. In facing Toronto, they were able to all but shut down Consuelo & Bradley, as as to the why , he explained, it was not individuals but but the other team as they would have had space, with such great players, if NY did not defend well as a team. His players need to to their job for a full 95' and limit their space. Another query was as to what changed with these recent wins as opposed to earlier losses, Maxi? Coach told it was now they are getting goals from their chances, players are now fresher and sharper, better trained. When all do their tasks, know their roles, Moralez is vital, he was subbed in and out, great during his time, they have won without him and do need a team effort. Next question was on the high press used in facing TFC, being more aggressive and starting Taty rather than Heber what their differences are. Ronny replied that Heber is able to press as does Taty, they bring desire, good pressure, effort more confidence = better play. Next up was one asking what changes were sought in coming to Orlando. Delia told that yes, change was expected, but culture and new things take time, some things were not as clear. There is alway improvement to be made, all is not perfect now, they will keep working, and it is easier to do all this when winning. One inquired at to Maxi and his fitness, coach was very strong in his reply, if Maxi is fit, he starts if @ 90% that is not enough for anyone, and they do want him. The young players were asked about, how they are fitting in and their usage along with the impact they are making. Ronnie got back with that he loves hungry players, he coaches to help the players. These are young, good, hungy and want to learn, the will get more time. By name he mentioned Nico, Keaton, Sands, Justin & Jesus (Sands had a standout game, even took an Altidore elbow to the head). I asked what was different with TCF, pressing etc. and what different challenges the Timbers would bring? He replied they did no different things but they worked (seems different), they played well together. As for Portland they are really good similar to TFC, his team must stop them, do the same things with unity, agressive play, make problems for them, as the league has parity, they must be at their best. Final question was on the lack of luck with NYCFC and their finishing. Ronny informed that they improved a lot, loooked fresh, it is a new deal now with 2 wins. They will keep winning, stay humble to the hard things that lead to goals and better things.
Next up was Maxi Moralez:
He was asked if he feels better, better yes, he was subbed not at 100% and coach was right for not staring him, in 2 days he hopes to be at 100%. Portland is very good, ready and strong, one of the better teams in MLS and NYCFC needs to be at 200% to advance. Asked on his calf then quad injuries lingering, if he now may need to be more careful in games and training, not that he is old. Maxi was very realistic in stating injuries are not just with age 30+, these are recurring, he works hard not to get hurt, he was great going into the Union game, these things happen in high intesity games. It was brought up that he worked well with Taty who had a great game, how high is the ceiling of Castellanos. Yes, he works hard whether he starts or subs, always very positive & humble with great energy and presses well. Maxi was asked about the different things Ronnie brings as the coach. He admitted that the COVID virus has caused adjusments with little things as there has been less time, that there are some differences but very similar to Dome, pressing. Maxi feels he does get the same freedom as he had before, having the same players who are already used to each other makes it easier. When also asked of the ICC, he feels it is important to play international teams , go for trophies here, it is extra motivation to take the final.
Sean Johnson closed the conference:
Again he was asked for an opening statement and retorted with with it being a good match up, NYCFC has good energy, prepared, they are in the right mindset and ready to play and move on in the tourney. Also asked to address the ICC by the team rep. Sean stated that it is important to building success to become an elite of the elite, the standard for NYCFC. Johnson had a question put to him relative to his time with the team, them doing well in the regular season but not in the playoffs, how much of impact will that have here and in the playoffs. He said it is very important, a few knockouts they have been in bring experience to win & get trophies with big 3 wins they are champions. Portland is the next step, not looking past them. As for TFC he was asked that before it was the same game plan but carried out with better execution, has the MLS Bubble and more time together helped it, yes he replied the time together has helped, we are now showing what we are capable of. When asked about coming to the MIB, being with the MLSPA, Covid, the Floyd killing etc. how hard it has been to focus and how he is now personally. Sean made it known that there were many things to deal with part time in the best way, but never lost sight of the game, family, friends with his union work, now it is a calmer time, focus is now shifted to the next game. It was asked that he inform as to the mood on the team, momentum gained following the Toronto game with now having 2 good games behind them. Johnson told it is inmportant to win, their success is from desire and the feeling of winning. but the poor result are very humbling, they need to find ways to get better, to not fall back to earlier. Which is more important he was asked, the communication or decisions made on the field. He said both, they comunicate ahead of making decisions and decide to comunicate, they must be better on both sides of the ball. When asked about playing conditions and the edge of a few day rest, the GK replied, they are eager to return from the TFC game, they have reflected and recharged, motivated to work, now in a good place mentally & physically and to focus on Saturday.