By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (June 15, 2022) USA Footballers – It Happened Again. New York City Football Club said goodbye to the head coach in the middle of the season. On Monday, Ronnie Deyla left the reigning MLS Cup champion NYCFC midway through his third season to become coach of the Standard Liege in the Belgian pro league. Assistant Nick Cushing will lead the team on an interim basis until the end of the 2022 season.
Standard Liege complied with the release clause on Deyla’s contract with New York, a number reported to have reached “seven figures”, allowing Deyla to return to Europe. These things happen in the football business, but that won’t make NYCFC fans worry.
“Everyone at the club would like to thank Ronnie for the fantastic job he has done here,” said NYCFC Athletic Director David Lee. “With Ronnie at the helm, we have developed an even stronger culture of winning and uniting and achieved our ultimate goal of bringing silver to this club, this city and our fans.”
Deyla leaves New York with suitcases full of goodwill. As the man who finally led one of the league’s most ambitious teams to first place with last year’s MLS Cup title, it will be hard for fans to hold a grudge. NYCFC is top of the Eastern Conference table with one of the best football games played in MLS this season. Deyla leaves the club in good spirits, preparing to compete again in the championship. His successor will feel pressured to maintain the standard.
The last time this happened to NYCFC, head coach Patrick Vieira left the club in June 2018. Vieira left New York for Nice in Ligue 1. The timing wasn’t perfect, but Vieira also left with fans watching his time at Yankee Stadium. favorable.
Vieira elevated NYCFC to contender status after a difficult entry into the expansion team in 2015. During Vieira’s tenure as head coach, the club finished second in the Eastern Conference twice. However, it was more than the points that marked Vieira’s tenure. He also pushed the NYCFC to play some of the most compelling possession football in the league.
Back in 2018, NYCFC approached a coach from another City Football Group team to pick up where Vieira left off. Manchester City assistant Domenech Torrent arrived from England, well versed in the approach that Vieira had successfully used at the Bronx.
Torrent had a pedigree that few MLS coaches could match. He was Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. The loan matched the New York club’s international outlook and brought a notable number of City Football Group family members to the MLS. And again it worked. In his only full season at the club in 2019, Torrent led NYCFC to 1st place. He left by mutual agreement after that season and is currently the coach of Galatasaray.
With Cushing, NYCFC turns to another coach well known within the City Football Group. Cushing rises to the top job after serving as Dale’s assistant for the past two and a half seasons. He got the job after seven years coaching the Manchester City women’s team in the FA Women’s Super League.
“While a mid-season change of head coach is never ideal, we are delighted that Nick Cushing has the opportunity and we have full confidence in him given his previous experience as one of the most decorated coaches in women’s football. Lee said in a statement.
Cushing is definitely set for success. He takes on the 1st place team with champion level talent in nearly every position. The players know him, so there will be no difficult period of adaptation. Immersed in the NYCFC path and with Guardiola’s game model as his guiding light, he will simply be asked to keep the club at its current level.
Long-term success in MLS is most often built on stability in key positions within the organization. Teams that compete for more than two or three seasons in a row may indicate succession, often to the head coach position.
Due to NYCFC’s ties to the game in Europe and the size of the City Football Group, the club is unlikely to have such a permanent presence. Vieira and Deyla arrived in New York in the hope of strengthening their reputation as coaches. The goal was to win games and trophies. Success in MLS will create opportunities.
Due to calendar inconsistencies, such opportunities tend to come when European clubs are in the off-season and MLS is in the middle. Vieira and Deyla got jobs in Europe in the middle of the MLS season because they won with NYCFC. This speaks to the club’s ability to navigate change by holding the highest position in the football field of the organization. Despite regularly changing head coaches, the NYCFC has not lost its place among the top contenders for the MLS Cup since Vieira took over. It’s unique in this league.
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Logo provided by NYCFC.