Cushing Anxious With Goals For NYCFC


It’s been a few months since NYCFC was eliminated from the MLS postseason and not much time for coach Nick Cushing and front office personnel to wipe away the disappointment. They fell short of their goals and that last kick at Citi Field sent a message.

They had to improve and the expected usual additions with subtractions to the roster were inevitable. Last season was short of many goals and literally meaning their inability to compile three points that came back to haunt them in the MLS Eastern Conference standings. To Cushing, it was frustrating making continued adjustments and seeking solutions as goals were hard to find.

Not that NYCFC was fraught with failure. They were always competitive on the pitch, the end though was frustrating as speculation mounted there would be another coaching change. But that was resolved a few weeks after the season concluded and Cushing went right back to work.

Then again, roster reconstruction is a constant part of the job. Cushing is no longer tabbed as the interim coach and takes full responsibility for the outcome of a 2023 season that fell short. Now with training camp in full swing down in Tampa Florida, and with their first preseason game Wednesday against Ecuadorian and another next Saturday against division rival Philadelphia, NFCFC is ready for the long haul ahead.

The guys are working really hard and we take it day by day on preseason,” Cushing said during a Zoom media conference call. “That’s all you can do is take it day by day, plan and review, and go train on between that. The goals for the team are to improve every day. They were the same last year and they will continue to be that. We want to be an exciting team. We want to play football that excites people and that is real fun to play.”

Though last year was categorized as frustrating, NYCFC recorded a league leading number of draws and matches that went down to the wire. Opposing teams held an advantage early and coming from behind was much too often. The goals were hard to find, though a tough team to beat at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, venues that will continue to be home in 2024.

February 24th is a month away and NYCFC begins the journey again opening up their MLS season at Charlotte. Their first home game is scheduled for March 9 versus Portland at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. In the meantime, preseason begins and Cushing will get a better handle of a young roster that is mixed with a few veterans.

If we achieve our goals and we become the team that we want to become in that case, freshness will be really important,” Cushing said. “Because I think our team is at its best and has been over the 2021 and 2022 seasons when we’ve been really aggressive and really attacking and played a really intense form of the game.”

There are new additions and last week NYCFC signed Midfielder Keaton Parks to a contract extension through 2026 with options through 2028. Parks, 26, arrived five years ago and in 152 matches scored 14 goals with six assists. He has been a part of NYCFC MLS Cup and Campeones Cup championship teams compiling last season with the second most minutes finishing top-three in assists and shots.

Newly signed Midfielder Hannes Wolf is reporting to camp after receipt of his P-1 Visa. James Sands, also a Midfielder, is currently with the U.S. Men’s National Team and will join the preseason roster. Maxi Moralez, a fan favorite, continues to rehab in Argentina from his ACL and expected to join later in the preseason. Forward Thiago Andrade, another fan favorite and aggressor on the pitch is expected soon as the club continues to negotiate his transfer.

Monday, the club announced the signing of 2024 SuperDraft pick Forward Malachi Jones through 2025 with options to 2027. The 20-year old from Lipscomb University made 35 appearances, scoring 12 goals and 15 assists over two seasons with the Bisons. The commitment to sign homegrown talent and transfers to the roster have been ongoing during the training camp period. Cushing has made decisions with putting finishing pieces together prior to the official start of the MLS season, chemistry has been good with emphasis to assure there is enough depth at every position.

This team will push me hard,” he said. “Because there’s a lot of talent in it, and the guys are showing at the moment that they want to play. So, there’s competition for places. What I believe and have learned through being a head coach is that competition for places brings consistency and performance brings results.”

Yes, there is confidence and that’s expected as 2023 is in the past. NYCFC has been through a transition with appointing Cushing as head coach. All-Star keeper Sean Johnson and league leading scorer Valentin Castellanos, factors of their 2021 MLS Cup championship are long gone. Now, there is that blend and balance.

I think it’s really clear for us that this season is about growing and being ourselves,” Cushing said. “And really trying to be the team that we know we are and just looking forward, being positive, and playing real positive football because we want to get the good and exciting times back.”

It is indeed that time of year for a coach to be anxious and embark on goals. But the key again, NYCFC will need to score more goals in their quest for another MLS Cup.

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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