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Nick Cushing | "The Players Came Back Focused." 

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Nick Cushing is pleased with his side’s preparations ahead of their game against Columbus Crew on Friday.

New York City FC will welcome Wilfried Nancy’s side to Yankee Stadium this week with the hope of extending their winning run in MLS to six games.

City are back in action following the international break, and in reflecting on the timing of that stoppage, Cushing spoke of how pleased he was to see a renewed focus among the players upon their return.

“You can look at the break in two ways,” Cushing said.

“It wasn’t the perfect timing because we had momentum and results, but at the same time, you have to take the rest when you get it because the schedule is so brutal.

“It was a great opportunity to rest and recover and give the players some family time as well as refresh and regenerate.

“I was really pleased with the focus they came back with. We also had time for video meetings – looking forward and backward.

“We know Columbus is going to be difficult, but I’m really pleased with the way the players have prepared this week.”

Elsewhere, Cushing also provided an update on Maxi Moralez after he made his long-awaited return to first-team action.

The veteran playmaker suffered an unfortunate knee injury last season and has spent most of 2024 working his way back into the first-team picture.

Able to return to the field last time out against the San Jose Earthquakes, Moralez finished his second-half cameo with an assist for Alonso Martínez during City’s 5-1 victory.

Still some way from being able to start a game from City, Cushing confirmed there will be no pressure placed on Moralez as he continues to work his way back to full fitness.

“It feels like a real lift for the team off the pitch - in the dressing room - and obviously on the pitch,” Cushing said. “But we have to go through the right process and make sure that he's ready.

“He’s had a huge impact now but the season is long. We are only just halfway through the season right? There will be a process and we'll be patient with that process.

He added: “He has impressed me an incredible amount in the way that he has rehabbed [his injury]: the hunger, the desire, and the real focus that he has shown to come back.

“I knew San Jose would be a difficult game and to have the opportunity to bring someone like Maxi off the bench - under the lights on a Friday night at a packed Yankee Stadium - I wanted that opportunity because I knew we might need it.

“With his drive, his hunger, and his determination, it was almost the perfect situation. You need somebody that's going to come in and pick the game up and put it in his pocket and Maxi is that guy.”

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