Alex Callens (right) defends against Kei Kamara on Saturday. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Ronny Deila doesn’t anticipate his team entering the second leg of its Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals at Comunicaciones FC overconfident on Tuesday night.
If the Cityzens do, they could be in trouble, the New York City FC head coach says.
City was victorious in the home leg last week, 3-1, but Deila realized things could go south in a hurry (FS2) at 8 p.m. Et.
“I don’t think it’s easy to be complacent in this situation,” Deila said during a Monday Zoom session with the media. “We know this is a tough result, 2-0 and we’re out.”Deila was referring to the fact that if Comunicaciones FC wins by that result, the Guatemalan side would advance to the semifinals on the strength of its away game in the East Hartford, Conn. encounter.
“We have to keep calm,” Deila continued. “We have to focus on the right things and make a good performance because that’s the only way to get the result we want. I think the group knows all those things.”
The NYCFC head coach reminded the media how fleeting a two-goal lead can be. NYCFC had a two-goal lead against Montreal CF in its home opener on Saturday before the Canadian side closed the gap with a goal.
“Then suddenly we were in under pressure and then we come back again,” he said about the 4-1 victory at Yankee Stadium.
“We need to be prepared mentally and physically, have a clear plan and execute. They do that and you lose, you have done your best. You don’t that and lose, this is not acceptable. We know that we [have to] do things right when we have a really good chance to go through. We put ourselves in a good situation after the first half.”
NYCFC has had a busy start to the season, playing six games over 26 days since starting the CCL on Feb. 15. It is perfect in the Concacaf competition at 3-0-0 and has a 1-1-1 mark in MLS. City scored its first goal of the season and earned its first win vs. Montreal.
Deila said the start of the season was better than we hoped for.”
“You can feel the atmosphere in the group,” he added. “It’s easy to get tired mentally and physically and be very quiet and [have] little energy. I haven’t seen anything about that in the team. I think every time we meet up again, after a day, we were smiling. We are looking forward to play again to train, to see new places.”
Deila said the status of right back Tayvon Gray (lower body injury) and midfielder Santiago Rodriguez, who tweaked his hamstring on Saturday.
“Both of them have to wait to the last minute to take that decision,” he said. “So we don’t know but [they] are close.”