NYCFC: A review of Nick Cushing so far in 2023

Nick Cushing of NYCFC
Nick Cushing of NYCFC / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Major League Soccer season is well under way, and so far New York City FC sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference table.  The team is 3-2-3, and recently won at home against Nashville SC. 

In addition, the Pigeons have brought in some talented players like Braian Cufré, and have brought back players like James Sands.  The squad is definitely not near where they should be compared to previous seasons, but the club has done a decent job with replacing some of the stars that left before the season began. 

Of course, there is still room to bring in more players, especially a striker since NYCFC desperately needs one. But until others are signed, the head coach, Nick Cushing must work with the current players that he has right now. 

With all of the changes so far this season, and the fact Cushing was able to have an entire preseason with most of his players, how has he fared so far in 2023?

Nick Cushing has done an okay job so far with NYCFC

The answer is simple for the New York City FC head coach: He has done an okay job.  It has not been terrible, but not great either.  At the same time, it is recognized there has been multiple changes at the club, so time is clearly needed.  Furthermore, the biggest factor is that the team does not have a goal-scoring striker on the roster.

For starters, Cushing’s worst attribute to the 2023 season was his belief and persistence that Talles Magno was the answer up front and center.  Many would have used the end of last season to say that was not the case, but he and the club felt that was the way to go.  Immediately, he was proven wrong, and Magno is best utilized on the wings.  It took one too many games for change, but at least the Brazilian has been starting on the wings again.

Cushing also has to figure out the goals that are given up from set pieces.  Thus far, five of the nine goals scored against NYCFC have come from set pieces.  This is quite concerning, for this could be the Pigeons’ downfall throughout the season.  All it takes is the confidence from the other teams, a free kick or corner kick in the dying seconds, and then poor defending on the set pieces to lead to a loss of points.

On the positive side of things, Cushing continues to focus on the City Football Group style of possession based football.  Keeping possession acts as a defensive mechanism, for they keep the ball away from the other team.  But it can also lead to an increase in attacking opportunities, and this has been seen over the years with NYCFC.

Moreover, Cushing has been mixed with the changing of tactics, but often makes the correct substitutions.  Look at the game against Atlanta United FC as a great example.  If Gabriel Pereira did not come on, then it is likely the Bronx side would not have grabbed a point. 

But tactically, sometimes Cushing needs to figure out things, especially when the team is struggling.  Plus, he needs to adjust when the other head coach adjusts.  In the previous match, Nashville SC made some changes, and then they were able to score this past weekend.  The head coach needs to do better with thinking tactically on the pitch, and making changes as the match goes on.

And, as supporters know, the results have been mixed in 2023.  With that being said, the team recently played one of the best matches of the season against Nashville, at least until Nashville scored.  Perhaps this is a sign of better things to come, or maybe it shows the team just needed more time to gel together. 

Next. NYCFC: We need to talk about that Maxime Chanot goal. dark

It is still early, but Cushing has done an okay job so far with leading the team as the head coach.  He needs to unlock the goal scoring, figure out his tactics a little bit more, and get the Pigeons to defend those set pieces.  But like the run at the end of 2022, Cushing can get the best out of New York City FC; he just needs the time to do so.