Nick Cushing | “Richy Ledezma, Alfredo Morales In Contention For Cincinnati.”

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Nick Cushing says Richy Ledezma and Alfredo Morales are available for Wednesday night’s visit of FC Cincinnati.

The Boys in Blue welcome The Orange and Blue to Yankee Stadium, looking to bounce back from Saturday’s home defeat to Philadelphia Union.

Speaking ahead of the clash, the Head Coach shared an update on the latest team news with the squad having suffered on the injury front at the weekend.

Ledezma had been forced off at Citi Field, alongside Thiago Martins, while Mitja Ilenič was withdrawn after the warm-up. Matías Pellegrini had also been ruled out with a lower body issue, and Morales had not featured since the trip to Charlotte FC.

“Richy Ledezma is fine,” Cushing explained. “Alfredo Morales has trained fully, so he should be healthy.

“Thiago Martins won’t be available for the game – with the injury he got, we’re still in the phase of trying to diagnose the injury. It’s not something that will come really quickly, it’s going to take a few days for us to see what the injury is, and get it diagnosed by the right people.

“Matías Pellegrini is really progressing and hopefully will come quicker. Mitja Ilenič is completely 50-50. Everybody else has been fine, and came through the game okay.

“We will definitely 100% rotate [in the coming weeks]. We have to. There are a lot of games coming thick and fast, so we have to make sure we keep guys healthy, we have to make sure we try and avoid the problems that we’re getting at the moment with the small injuries. The only way to do that is to control the load in the guys playing a lot of football in a short space of time.

“The other side is that we’re not winning football games, so we have to find the right balance of guys that are going to give us not only the real strengths we have in the way we play football, but also the maturity and the mentality that’s going to help us suffer in those moments.

“We have to find that balance quickly because at that moment, we seem to be suffering in areas, fixing areas and then suffering in other areas. That’s part of a new team, a young team, and if we can affect that quickly by changing the team, for sure we will do that.”

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Having snapped an impressive unbeaten run on home soil with the setback against Philadelphia, Cushing added his team are determined to return to winning ways in front of the City faithful, who he acknowledged played a key part in his side’s strong start to Saturday’s encounter.

“We had a good home record leading into Saturday, and it’s something we are disappointed to have lost – but it’s another opportunity on Wednesday,” the Head Coach asserted.

“Ultimately, we're disappointed in our away record, and we want to put that right, but at the moment, we have a cluster of home games.

“The goal for us is always to play for our fans, to entertain our fans and ultimately, to win for our fans. Irrelevant of the result, we’ll look at areas where we can be better.

“The support on Saturday was excellent again. I thought the start of the game – the Tifo – was incredible. The guys really love to see the Tifo from The Third Rail, who support us incredibly well. We really appreciate that.

“We’ll always appreciate the support we get from those guys – they are with us through thick and thin. For us, we just want to give back every game, and we’re so pleased that we’ve won games at home.

“We want to get back to winning ways. We felt we played well in the first 40 minutes. We lost the game in a small space of time and for us, the main driver is to give back to those guys with performance and wins.

“Within the locker room, when I look in the guys’ eyes – and the staff’s eyes – we want to win for those guys, for our fans at home.”

Wednesday’s fixture sees City entertain the Eastern Conference leaders in Cincinnati, who have tallied 33 points from their opening 14 games.

The two sides locked horns three weeks ago in the US Open Cup with The Orange and Blue progressing with a 1-0 win, and Cushing expects another difficult and physical contest.

“I think playing them [recently] helps in the sense of becoming familiar with the team you’re going to play,” he added. “They are a really mature team – a team that’s had the opportunity to play together in the previous year.

“They’re really building the chemistry between the side, whether it’s the front players working off each other: Luciano Acosta has become really important for them in their offensive game.

“We know they can play if we give them space, we know they’re comfortable going direct into two strikers, and we just came up against that in Philadelphia.

“We also suffered against them in set-play in that game, so we know they’re a team in form. It’s going to be a difficult game, but we have our own motivations, and our own real strong desires of how we want to go about the game, and what’s important to us.

“We have to be more physical ourselves. In our league, we are a football team – we can play football, get the ball down, keep possession and create chances – but there’s always going to be a physical element to the game.

“Against teams like Cincinnati, Philadelphia, their game style is built around the physicality of the game, and you have to cope in those moments – we have to be better, more physical... We can’t just rely on our ability to play football. We saw that in the two goals against Philadelphia. 

“The Cincinnati game will be no different. I thought we coped with that well away – apart from the set-play goal we gave away, we didn’t give away a lot of goal chances in that game. I was disappointed to give away the set-play. We have to cope in those moments.

“We have to relish them and make sure we can play that side of the game, because it’s a huge part of our league.

“We know it will be a difficult game, but they all are in our league.”

Tickets for NYCFC's visit of FC Cincinnati on Wednesday are available. Don't miss your chance to secure your seat at Yankee Stadium.

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