Does Nick Cushing know that Talles Magno is not a striker?

-Talles Mango has often been utilized as a striker despite not being one

-Does Nick Cushing know he should start as a winger?

Talles Magno of NYCFC
Talles Magno of NYCFC / Mark Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the 2023 season, Talles Magno has been the most discussed player on the New York City FC roster.  The Brazilian has struggled this year.  His troubles can be attributed to some of his hardships regarding his play.  Yes, some of it is due to the player. However, the mismanagement of his development by playing him as a striker and then barely playing him in the second half of the season is a major reason he has not become the star he should have.

Nick Cushing and the Front Office have tried game in and game out to play Magno as the number nine.  This was especially true at the beginning of the season.  Meanwhile, it was clear to the media and fans that the winger was not a striker.  His best play came on the wings.  Additionally, he played exceptionally well when he was allowed to roam the final third. 

So, it was a lovely moment when Magno was brought on in the middle of the Orlando City SC match.  He played as a winger and scored his first goal since April.  It was an emotional moment, and everyone knew it heightened his confidence.  He played some of his best football against Orlando despite coming on as a substitute. 

As a result, it was expected Magno would start in NYCFC’s match against Toronto FC.  In the pregame press conference, Cushing was asked about the Designated Player and whether he and Mounsef Bakrar would play with one another.  He answered by talking about how the forward has been “working hard” and discussed his performance against Orlando.  Yet, the most puzzling part of his response was that “we don’t play with two strikers.”

Nick Cushing must know that Talles Magno is a winger

This brings up this question: Does Cushing know that Magno is not a striker?  He is a winger.  Sure, he can maneuver around the attacking third and be an impactful player.  But his biggest influence on the game occurs when he is on the sides of the pitch and not front and center.

When Mango is a winger, he scores more goals and provides more assists.  When he is on the wings, he adds to the movement up the pitch.  As a striker, he struggles to be the impactful player he can be. 

In 2023, three of his four goals in Major League Soccer came when he was a left-winger.  Even when he scored as a center-forward in the D.C. United game, his best production came on the wings. Nonetheless, when watching Magno throughout the last few years, it was clear he was not his best as a striker. 

In addition, one of the Brazilian’s best starts of the year occurred this past weekend against Toronto FC.  He did not score but was directly involved in two of the three goals.  He set up the initial pass that led to the Andrés Perea goal.  Then, he earned the assist on the Julián Fernández goal. 

Notably, he was on the wings for both goals and not in the center-forward position.  When he was the number nine during the closing stages of the fixture, his performance dropped significantly.  He was not the same impactful player compared to the rest of the 90 minutes.  Hence, this proves Magno is best utilized as a winger who has the freedom to move around the final third.

So why would Cushing make it seem that he sees the Brazilian as a striker?  He is not a striker.  NYCFC should stop utilizing him as such.  He did not mention the level of competition amongst the wing players either but did mention how these players are trying to help the team.  Is the head coach hindered by his own bias of wanting the forward to be a center-forward that he cannot call him a winger?

Of course, Magno did start on the wings in the Toronto fixture.  That means Cushing has no issue with playing him there.  Why did he say that he will not play him with Bakrar because he will not play two strikers?  Again, it is puzzling.

In all honesty, that statement is also concerning.  Everyone knows Magno is not a striker, except for New York City FC.  If Cushing and the Front Office refuse to admit this, then maybe he will try to leave in the offseason.  And guess what?  He has every right to do so.