ORLANDO – New York City FC probably won’t know until Thursday night whether its work at the MLS Is Back Tournament is finished.
As one of six third-place teams vying for four spots in the knockout, head coach Ronny Deila and company will have to wait until the Houston Dynamo-LA Galaxy game is completed at 10 p.m. ET.
“First of all, we’re going to enjoy the victory,” Deila said after his team defeated Inter Miami CF in its final group stage match Wednesday. “That’s important and then we’re going to train and develop ourselves. We want to get another chance, so hopefully we can do it, but it’s not in our hands anymore. We gave ourselves an opportunity that it can happen with winning today. We’re going to prepare for playing one more game down here, hopefully more than one.”
Midfielder Keaton Parks had the same attitude.
“We’re going to stay ready just in case we go through,” he said. “Our mindset is the same. We’re ready [for the knockout round] and we’re going to keep training and keep being intense out on the field and we’ll be ready whether we’re going home or playing.”
Deila was just happy his team earned something – three points – after going winless in the past five consecutive matches – one in the Concacaf Champions League, two in Major League Soccer in March and the first two contests at the competition here.
“Today I’m very proud of the team,” he said. “We can talk as much as we want about chances or saves…but if you’re going to be a good team you need to be organized, and you need to be working as a unit and be very safe defensively. Today the boys worked their asses off. They were fantastic in the pressure…I’m unbelievably proud of the boys today. It’s a tough situation when you don’t win games, and to stay together, stick together and be a unit, the victory is very, very important.”
Midfielder Ismael Tajouri-Shradi said NYCFC was the only team to play twice at 9 a.m. While the heat isn’t as high as in the afternoon, both sides are playing in the sunlight and of course, in humidity.
It was so hot, there were four hydration breaks – two in each half – as opposed to the normal two.
“It’s unbelievable how hot it was,” Tajouri-Shradi said. “Today, I think it was more than the first game against Philadelphia, but yeah, we knew it was going to be really hard.”
Added Deila: “To play at 9 o’clock in the morning, it’s really, really tough. It’s not about who plays good, it’s about those who don’t do mistakes. That’s what we did today, we didn’t do any mistakes. We didn’t give them anything.”