New York City FC is inches away from clinching a Concacaf Champions League semi-final spot, but coach Ronny Deila is determined to focus on keeping calm.
The Major League Soccer side is set to face Guatemalan side Comunicaciones on Tuesday in the second leg of their Concacaf Champions League quarter final series, having already opened up a 3-1 aggregate lead from the recent first leg.
NYCFC last featured in the international tournament in 2020, losing in the quarter-finals against eventual winner Tigres UANL. Should they defeat Comunicaciones on Tuesday, the Eastern Conference side would make team history in reaching the semi-finals of the Concacaf Champions League for the first time.
“You can feel the atmosphere in the group,” Deila said in Monday’s media availability. “It’s easy to get moody and tired mentally and physically, be very quiet and little energy. I haven’t seen anything about that in the team. I think every time we meet up again after a day off or something, we’re smiling, we’re looking forward to play again, to train, to see new places.
“And it’s no complaining, everybody’s enjoying. Of course it helps to win, it’s important, but we have two games now before we can have a break and we’re going to do everything we can to come out of that with two victories.”
NYCFC managed the leg one victory with goals from Taty Castellanos, Maxi Moralez and Santiago Rodriguez. The three players were deadly when finishing, providing the MLS side with a cushion of two goals going into Tuesday.
But despite the score, Deila is not taking anything for granted, admitting the game will not be easy.
“I don’t think it’s easy to be complacent in this situation,” he said. “We know this is a tough result. 2-0 we’re out. So I think it’s opposite. We have to keep calm.
“We have to focus on the right things, the match plan, our tasks, make a good performance because that’s the only way to get the result we want. I think the group now knows those things. It’s not about thinking we are something or not. We saw on the weekend: We were 2-0 up, they get 2-1 and then suddenly we were under pressure and then we come back again.
“We need to be prepared mentally and physically, have a clear plan and execute. You do that and you lose, you’ve done your best. You don’t do what you agreed to do and lose, it’s not acceptable. We know that we do things right, we have a really good chance to go through and we have put ourselves in a good situation after the first half.”