NYCFC head north to face Toronto FC on Saturday

Valentin Castellanos chases the ball for NYCFC.|Art or Photo Credit: AP

New York City Football Club Head Coach Ronny Deila believes the 2022 season has already presented his team with a series of fresh challenges.

The Boys in Blue have enjoyed a busy start to the campaign as they compete in both Major League Soccer and the Concacaf Champions League. Having now been able to recharge during the international break Saturday’s game against Toronto FC will see the start of another busy period for NYCFC with Deila happy at how his team has begun the campaign.

“I think we had a really good start to the season,” Deila said. “There have been challenges that we have never been through before and it's something you learn from. Right now, I don't know what I would do differently because it's impossible to know if you haven't tried something else. But in general, I think we are in a good place. If we could choose that before we started the season that we have four points in the league and in the semifinal of the Champions League we would be very happy.

“I think you saw at the end of the period we had some trouble with fatigue and we started to get tired in Guatemala and coming into the Philadelphia game. I think you lack 10% sharpness and you come half a yard too late in things, and it’s tougher to get the result you want. I’m hopeful now we’ve got some rest, got our minds right, our bodies ready we can get that 10% back and show ourselves from the best side.”

Deila was also able to provide a fitness update on two of his defensive options in Alex Callens and Maxime Chanot. The pair were both on international duty with Peru and Luxembourg respectively, and while Callens has been cleared to play Saturday the prognosis for Chanot is less certain.

“Callens is a machine,” Deila said. “He has played in the last 12 months an unbelievable amount of games. He takes care of himself, he does everything right. He's a top professional and that's why he can keep going all the way physically and mentally. It helps him to achieve something [with Peru] to go to the World Cup playoff.

“That was a great achievement for him and for the team. At the same time when he comes back, he’ll play important games in the league and also in the Champions League. I'm sure if you asked him he is living his best dreams. He will be ready for Saturday and he’ll do everything to rest as much as possible.”

He went on to add: “Maxime suffered an injury in his eye. He will go from Serbia to Luxembourg today, then he has to see a specialist and we'll see how serious the injury is and if he’s going to be ready for Saturday or Wednesday. Hopefully, it's not a big thing. It’s uncertain what the status is right now so hopefully, everything goes well."