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NYCFC MLS Cup Playoffs exit all came down to ‘two moments’, Nick Cushing laments

NYCFC interim head coach Nick Cushing has lamented the ‘two moments’ that ended his side’s MLS Cup title defense.

The reigning champions took a 1-0 lead through Maxi Moralez in the 57th minute of Sunday’s Eastern Conference Final clash with the Philadelphia Union in a repeat of the 2021 fixture.

However, unlike last year, NYCFC were unable to see the win through, conceding three goals in 11 minutes to fall 3-1 at Subaru Park.

Reflecting on a difficult evening, Cushing highlighted a remarkable save from Andre Blake just after NYCFC had taken the lead and the equalizing goal as the two key moments of the match.

“Two moments. I think there were two huge moments,” Cushing told reporters. “One at 1-0, [Alexander] Callens’ header forced an incredible save. And then, obviously, the set play where we just lose our concentration and they get in and get it to 1-1. And then we just don’t manage those next three-four minutes well enough and we know what it’s like here in Philadelphia. The crowd gets on and they get you in that moment. The game can go from 1-1 to 2-1 really quickly.

With the season now over, attention will naturally turn to the future of Cushing.

The 37-year-old Englishman took over following the departure of Ronny Deila to Standard Liege in June and after an initial slump, was able to stabilize results and guide NYCFC to the Campeones Cup title and third place in the Eastern Conference.

Heading into Sunday’s clash with the Union, New York even boasted a six-game winning streak across all competitions.

However, that ‘interim’ tag remains before his name. So, does Cushing fancy the job on a permanent basis?

“Of course I want to come back next year,” he declared. “I think you’ve seen from the moment I came in here that I will take responsibility for the results, whatever happens. You know, we’ve had some exceptional results this year. We had a period where it was really disappointing and we’ve been able to turn that around and finish third in the [Eastern] Conference and make it to the [Eastern] Conference Final.”

Cushing added: “For me, for as long as I’m here as a coach, whether it be assistant coach or head coach, my aim is to make sure this Organization is always at this point. Because our Organization demands that and the individuals in this Organization want to work for that. We have to be at the table every year, and if you consistently get to Conference Finals, then you’ll win more MLS Cups.”

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