Ronny Deila: “It’s one of the toughest to do. It’s 28 teams competing on the same economic level, and to do that, you have to get the most out of what you have.” (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
PORTLAND – Ronny Deila has a few accomplishm8ents on his resume.
He has won the Scottish Premiership and Scottish League Cup.
His Celtic teams have prevailed over Rangers in the Old Firm Derby.
As a player, his Odd squad also captured the Norwegian Cup.
So, how would winning MLS Cup compare to the New York City FC coach’s past achievements as coach?
“I think it’s very big for me personally to win this,” Deila said during a press conference at Providence Park on Thursday. “I think would be one of the biggest things I’ve ever achieved.”
NYCFC will meet the Portland Timbers on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (ABC).
Deila felt the degree of difficulty in MLS makes it so much toughter to parade around with the Philip K. Anschutz trophy.
“It’s one of the toughest to do,” Deila said. “It’s 28 teams competing on the same economic level, and to do that, you have to get the most out of what you have, and that’s a big, big honor if we can achieve that on Saturday.
Deila enjoyed great success with Celtic, which secured the Scottish Premiership in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and the Scottish League Cup in 2014-15 under his tutelage.
“You train Celtic; you have to win,” he said. “The differences are so big. It’s Rangers, Celtic and then the others are way behind. So if you’re playing 80 percent, you have a big chance to win the league.”
When he played with Odd in his native Norway, Deila’s team won the 2000 Norwegian Cup.
“But of course, Cups is different in Norway, as well,” he said. “When I was winning, was a little bit underdogs and go and win the Cup in the league, but this is going to be a huge one.
“I think the whole energy around MLS is getting better and it’s the start of something big that’s going to happen in the U.S. with soccer, because you see the kids around playing soccer everywhere. I see the interest is getting more and more, not only from here but also from Europe.”
This is Deila’s second year as NYCFC boss, after joining the club just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
NYCFC will play its third consecutive playoff game on the road after dispatching the New England Revolution on Nov. 30 and then the Philadelphia Union on Dec. 5.
The visitors will need to remain focused, especially early on, in front of an enemy crowd.
“We are prepared for what Portland is,” he said. “But a final is a final. I’ve been through some of them before, and they live them over their own lives. In the beginning, of course, there’s going to be a lot of energy on both teams, I’m sure. Then we’ll settle down and we’ll see how the game goes. But always is to defend. Well, and especially against Portland. If you don’t defend, they will hurt you. And the same if they don’t defend, we will hurt them.
“So, start with that, get the foundation right, and then of course you have to move the ball well and create difficulty for them. And that’s what we aim to do. But in the beginning, of course, get settled and get safety into the team, and then we build from there.”