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Soccer-New York City bid for repeat as MLS Cup champion

New York City Soccer Club celebrates MLS Cup in New York
FILE PHOTO: New York City Soccer Club head coach Ronny Deila speaks during their MLS championship celebration on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S. Ky, December 14, 2021. REUTERS / Mike Segar

February 25, 2022

By Rory Carroll

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – New York City FC will need to step up their play compared to last season if they hope to repeat as MLS Cup champions, head coach Ronny Deila said before kicking off the team. New campaign starts this weekend.

NYCFC were the road warriors in last year’s knockouts, winning three in a row in hostile environments, including a penalty shootout win over Portland in the Cup Finals to claim their first trophy. of franchises.

But as the North American league enters its 27th season more competitive than ever and with a new team in Charlotte, nothing will be easy.

“Of course, the goal is to win again. But MLS is now really, really competitive,” Deila told reporters on a video call.

“Last year we were the best team and we want to be the same this year, but we need to improve from what we did last season.”

While their defence, spearheaded by veteran goalkeeper Sean Johnson, was solid last season, the team still has work to do on the other side of the ball.

“I think we can be better in our attacking play,” Deila said

“Our pass could have been better. We could have created more opportunities than we did. So it’s about relationships. It’s about positioning. It’s about knowing what’s going on before the ball arrives. ”

That defense will be tested when they visit an LA Galaxy team that includes Mexico forward Javier Hernandez and new additions Douglas Costa and Mark Delgado in their opening game of the season on Sunday.

“We are going to meet a very good team,” Deila said.

“They look much tougher than last year. They have good individual players. They have a style of play that can cause problems if you don’t defend well.”

NYCFC entered the season opener after beating Costa Rica’s Santos de Guapiles 4-0 in Los Angeles on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

GEOGRAPHIC CHANGE

This MLS season will mark the league’s evolution and will be different in a few ways.

Starting on February 26 is the earliest ever due to the unique timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The MLS Cup will be held on November 5, a little more than two weeks before the match is played. out in Qatar.

The Charlotte expansion is expected to draw an MLS record crowd of nearly 75,000 fans for its opening home game on March 5, and two more soccer stadiums will open in Nashville and St. . Louis, bringing the number of stadiums built for MLS clubs to 26. , including nine as of 2016.

In 2004 the MLS had 10 clubs, and since then it has nearly tripled the number of teams to 28 by 2022.

St. Louis will join in 2023 and the league is in talks to place a 30th club in Las Vegas as football’s popularity continues to grow in the United States.

“We’ve been through an incredible shift, a seismic shift, that is showing all of us that there’s really no limit to where Major League Soccer can go in the years to come, ‘ said Commissioner Don Garber.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, edited by Ed Osmond)

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