The Nick Cushing review after 10 games: He can stay... for now

  • Nick Cushing and NYCFC have turned things around thanks to their recent homestand
  • The head coach should still be on a tight leash, but he can stay for now
Nick Cushing of NYCFC
Nick Cushing of NYCFC / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York City FC season has been a roller coaster so far. At first, they started the season poorly. Now, the team is unbeaten in their last five games, where four were played during their current homestand.

Concerns remain though since some of these results occurred against teams that are or were in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings. NYCFC has scored two goals in each of their last three wins, but that has not completely removed the worry about scoring goals. Plus, road matches will be here before they know it, and the road is not a pretty place.

With all of that being said, NYCFC has played ten games. Before the season, it was thought that the club should not be patient with Nick Cushing and that he should be judged after ten fixtures. So, where does the head coach stand?

The Pigeons are 4-4-2 with 14 points. Thanks to their strong homestand, they sit in sixth place. The question remains whether they can be consistent for the rest of the season, but at least right now they have done well over the last month. Hence, Cushing's job is saved at this time. It might not be the five or six wins that were expected of him to keep his job, but the recent turnaround is a big enough factor to wait a little longer.

Nick Cushing can stay, but NYCFC should evaluate later on

Of course, NYCFC probably would have not done anything regardless of the record. The front office has supported the head coach over the last year. From the fans' point of view, it is likely many continue to doubt him and are waiting for the team to stumble again. Some might be okay with giving him a little more time after the recent success. Indeed, that is the viewpoint here.

Again, NYCFC is unbeaten in their last five fixtures. With one match left in the homestand, they are 3-0-1. The players are finally finding the back of the net as well. Sure, improvement is still a must, but the offensive effort and performances have been night and day during this time.

It can help by separating the ten games via the first five and second five. The first five saw NYCFC score 0.6 goals a game, give up 1.4 goals a game, and they had a record of 1-4-0. The second five saw them score 1.6 goals a game, give up 0.6 goals a game, and they had a record of 3-0-2.

Using the eye test, they have just looked better over the last few matches, controlling the pace of play. Their ability to limit the opposing team's chances has been vital to the recent results, especially Matt Freese. The goalkeeper has been superb throughout the entire season, for he is in seventh in Major League Soccer with 34 saves. He is fourth with a little over 77% of his shots saved. There were quite a few matches where he kept the Pigeons alive or ahead, subsequently making him a major part of why Cushing is still here.

Some might argue that NYCFC is where they are based on the players and not the head coach. However, the counter-argument is that the team is following his tactics and methods. Perhaps Cushing has been more open to making changes and adjusting to the players on the pitch. But wins and losses are a mix of the players and coaching staff, so credit must be given where credit is due.

Admittedly, Cushing is not out of the dog house yet. The coach must continue to get results. Plus, he has to unlock more of his players to score goals. Low-scoring games do not win leagues unless the team has the best defense in the world. NYCFC has done well defensively, but they must score.

So, Cushing can stay for now. But he must be evaluated again at the halfway point. If the results continue on the current path, then the club can allow him to remain as the head coach for the rest of 2024. NYCFC needs to at least finish in the top half of the table. Even then, a seventh-place finish is not good enough for the standards set by the team in the past and the New York fans.