NYCFC interim head coach Nick Cushing isn’t getting too ahead of himself, despite his side pulling off two vital victories in the space of a week.
After a wretched run of just one win and five points from their last 10 MLS matches, the Pigeons brought home another trophy with a 2-0 win over Atlas in the Campeones Cup on Wednesday. NYCFC followed that up with a dominant performance against Hudson River Derby rivals New York Red Bulls on Saturday, winning by the same scoreline.
Just like last year, when they went all the way and won MLS Cup, NYCFC appear to be overcoming a poor run at just the perfect time. However, Cushing is taking nothing for granted and will be working hard to keep standards high.
“I think we have to be careful that we don’t rely on the fact that it’s just going to happen because it happened last year. It’s a dangerous way to look at things,” Cushing said following Saturday’s win.
“One thing the team is really aware of is the last ten games have shown that nothing is going to be given for free. … We are well aware that we have to grasp and grind out results and play well in moments when we can and fight in moments that we can’t.”
For the second time in a week, it was Alexander Callens opening the scoring early on for NYCFC, only this time, he found the net in the opening 60 seconds rather than taking four minutes.
The Peruvian center-back continues to be NYCFC’s go-to guy for the big occasion and Cushing couldn’t speak more highly of the 30-year-old.
“I can’t say enough about Alexander Callens, if you look at the run we have had and we have had a run of disappointing games, we weren’t in a losing moment until he went off at 2-2 in Columbus,” said Cushing. “We go on the road and have performances where we do not get wins and then he comes back and we get a draw and, of course, the Charlotte game is a loss. He is an incredible guy, first and foremost, he is a guy who does and has done everything to get the performances that he gets.”
Cushing didn’t stop there with his praise, placing Callens above all other defenders in Major League Soccer right now.
“In my opinion, he is the best central defender in MLS, by a long way,” Cushing continued. “We have found a system where he can naturally be a striker, a midfielder, and a defender all in 90 minutes.
“He has given the team a lot at the moment. I do not think you come across these guys very often, I have worked in the men’s and the women’s game and there are a handful of really special players. I worked at Manchester City women’s with Carli Lloyd and she was an incredible player to coach. There are three or four in my time that I have coached and Alexander Callens is in there. He is fun to coach, inspires me, he brings a level to the team that is the next level. I couldn’t say enough about him.”
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