Nick Cushing | "This Group Is Ready And Eager To Work Hard."


Nick Cushing believes the Club's roster has returned ready and eager to improve as they continue preseason. 

The Boys in Blue are currently working hard at their base in Tampa Bay, Florida, and played their first preseason scrimmage of 2024 against Barcelona this week.

Reflecting on the elements of preseason he enjoys most, Cushing also noted that he has seen a squad eager and ready to improve themselves as they head into the upcoming MLS campaign.

“I think I think trying to mold the group off the field is really important,” he explained.

“I think when you have a group that has been away for some time, what you see is those guys that have really reflected and really evaluated not only their performances but their position and that presence in the group.

“We have exit meetings before we leave so that we can give the player some feedback. What you see as you come back is guys with a real desire and a real determination to improve the team and improve themselves within the team.

“Off the field, I think the likes of Keaton Parks, Santiago Rodríguez, Thiago Martins, and Mitja Ilenič.

“You can really see that those guys are trying to be more of a presence in the team and show more leadership.

“I've said to the guys that ultimately the plan is only executed by the leadership of the team -of course that includes myself- but then once the game starts, it's about those guys on the field.

“I think on the pitch the first period is always really exciting because we're going to push them physically, we're going to stress them and we're going to make sure that we try and implement those ideas that we feel are going to improve us as a team.

“This has been by far the hardest preseason that I've experienced our teamwork since I've been here, since 2020.

“The players have worked incredibly hard they have put in an incredible amount of focus and an incredible amount of energy and effort in in these 14 days.

“They've earned a few days off back in New York after tomorrow after the Philadelphia game. Then we go to Palm Springs, Coachella to the tournament and we get an opportunity to play and continue to improve the team.

“We get an opportunity off the field to continue to improve the team's cohesion and resilience. It’s really exciting for the coaching team to see the players embrace that and see the players want to play a part in the continued improvement of the team.”

Elsewhere, Cushing also discussed the club’s decision to acquire Andrés Perea from Philadelphia Union. 

The 23-year-old initially joined NYCFC on loan last season and after impressing in the heart of midfield the Club opted to sign him permanently earlier this month.  

“Once we got down to the Chicago game and he came off the bench and then we went to the Miami game, we were really clear that he was an important guy for us and somebody that we know is going to improve our team,” Cushing said. 

“We wanted to continue working with Andrés through 2024. It’s complex when you do it within the league and David Lee did an incredible job to make that deal happen.

“I think when you look at why it’s really clear. He’s a totally different profile of midfield player compared to what I have experienced here. 

“He's a really good football player with the ball but he gives us real aggression and a real dynamic midfield and I think the challenge for me – which is a great challenge – is fitting him, James Sands, Keaton Parks, and Justin Haak, around Hannes Wolf, Santiago Rodríguez and those real number tens.

“I’m really pleased we brought Andrés in. Now we just have to get the team working, build the team, find the first XI and have a strong bench.”

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