New York City FC is changing its head coach midseason. Norwegian manager Ronny Deila is leaving for Liege in Belgium, with Nick Cushing taking his role on an interim basis.

Ronny Deila
Deila kept his promise to strip off his clothes to celebrate NYCFC winning their first MLS Cup title last year. (Image: mlssoccer.com)

Deila, 46, will have a tough mission in Liege. Standard finished in 14th place last season. The club plans a revamp of its roster in order to go back to the top. Standard is one of the biggest clubs in Belgium, alongside Anderlecht and Club Brugge.

“While it is never ideal to have a change of head coach midseason, we are excited for Nick Cushing to have this opportunity and have the utmost confidence in him given his previous experience as one of the most decorated coaches in the women’s game,” David Lee, New York City’s sporting director, said in a club statement.

Deila, who joined City in 2020, led the club to an MLS Cup victory last year. He ends his tenure with a 49-29-15 record. Before moving to the MLS, the Norwegian managed Celtic Glasgow from 2014 to 2016, as well as Stromsgodset and Valerenga in his native country. Deila is a two-time Scottish Premiership champion, also winning the national league in Norway with Stromsgodset in 2013.

In his first year at NYCFC, Deila guided the team into the MLS playoffs and the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals. In 2021, after a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, City won its first-ever MLS Cup. Against the odds, NYCFC beat the Portland Timbers to lift the trophy. Deila leaves City at the top of the Eastern Conference with a record of 8-2-3 after 13 games this season. The team recorded wins in their last four MLS matches and is unbeaten in an official outing since April 7.

“I feel this is the right time to take on this new challenge and return to Europe,” Deila said. “The City group is an incredible organization with extremely talented players, an amazing sporting department, and fantastic leadership across the club,” the manager added.

Who’s Deila’s replacement?

Nick Cushing, NYCFC’s interim boss, will take charge of his first game on Sunday when the MLS Cup holders welcome the Colorado Rapids at Yankee Stadium. Before moving to New York, Cushing coached the Manchester City Women’s team, winning a total of six trophies. The 37-year-old joined NYCFC as an assistant in 2020 after seven years with Man. City’s women’s side.

“We have an incredible team here at NYCFC, and it’s a great group of players to work with,” Cushing said.

“We remain as focused as ever as we prepare for a busy period of games beginning this weekend at home against Colorado. This is an exciting opportunity for me and I’m ready to continue the great work we have been undertaking as a coaching group over these past few years together,” Cushing added.

NYCFC is at +800 to retain its MLS title this season, just behind LAFC at +450.

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