Nick Cushing believes "controlling the chaos" is key after Leagues Cup exit

-NYCFC were knocked out of the Leagues Cup by the New York Red Bulls

-Nick Cushing believes the team has to fight harder and control the chaos

Nick Cushing of NYCFC
Nick Cushing of NYCFC / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Despite blessing the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, with a 5-0 win over Toronto FC last week, New York City Football Club quickly woke up as the New York Red Bulls reclaimed their home turf.

The game against Toronto was supposed to be the turning point of a subpar season. However, all of the momentum NYCFC hoped for faced a reality check in a 1-0 loss to their local rivals in the Leagues Cup round of 32.

Head coach Nick Cushing made his disappointment known in the post-game press conference.

"I think we know the nature of this game. There are two ways we can play it. We can control the chaos or join it and fight-- I don't think we did either in the first half."

Nick Cushing

NYCFC played well despite the Leagues Cup exit

An unquestionable foul by James Sands became the suspect for NYCFC's demise. The lone goal came in the 31st minute from the penalty spot, successfully converted by Omir Fernandez. NYCFC tried to claw their way out of elimination from the tournament, but their efforts were in vain.

Controlling more than 60 percent of possession, shooting as much as their opponents, blocking more shots, and completing more passes-- the Pigeons won every important category except for the final score. As such, Cushing added to his original thoughts.

"We gotta fight harder. The positive thing is we came out [better] in the second half. The game was messy, and we didn't compete in those important moments."

Nick Cushing

Comparisons were immediately drawn between their last two performances. How did the same team come from a showcase win against Toronto to a shameful result in the Hudson River Derby?

"We played against a team that lost every week (Toronto) and started on the front foot. It's a fight. The game (against the Red Bulls) was pretty even until we gave the penalty away. That shocks us, and we try to get [back] into it. We need to control that chaos better. It took us a little bit too long to get in that moment to do that."

Nick Cushing

With their exit from the Leagues Cup, NYCFC has a 17-day layoff before their Major League Soccer season resumes against Minnesota United FC. Both Cushing and goalkeeper Matt Freese see the break in a positive light, especially with new players entering the club.

"We have key guys coming in. Our talent is already there and we're just adding to that. I don't think we have to go back and start from square one. There's a lot of positives to build on--we just need to capitalize on the moments where we have the ball on the final third."

Matt Freese

The question remains: will New York City FC solve the problems in the final third? Only time will tell.