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Ronny Deila: Maxi Moralez and Thiago Martins back in training with First Team

NYCFC manager expects San Jose game on Sunday to be aggressive: “We have to earn the right to play, and be tough inside the two boxes”

Two thumbs up: Maxi is back in training.
Photograph by Katie Cahalin, courtesy NYCFC.com

New York City FC playmaker Maxi Moralez and center-back Thiago Martins are back in training with the First Team after missing recent games because of injuries. In a pregame press conference held earlier today, manager Ronny Deila said he’s hopeful that both will be available to play when NYCFC host San Jose Earthquakes at Yankee Stadium this Sunday, May 1, at 1 pm ET.

NYCFC have been without Moralez since early April, when the playmaker was injured in training before the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals against Seattle Sounders. His return will fill out an attack that managed only two goals in two games against Seattle, then turned around to score six against Real Salt Lake and five against Toronto FC.

If Martins can play, it will address a center-back-sized problem that has been looming over the upcoming game. Defensive midfielder Alfredo Morales was called on to fill in for Martins in Sunday’s 5-4 win over Toronto, but he will be suspended after receiving a questionable red card in the 89th minute. With center-back Maxime Chanot still questionable while he continues to recover from an eye injury suffered while on international duty, NYCFC find themselves thin on central defenders despite having three of the best in MLS.

Still, other key players won’t be available. In addition to Chanot and Morales, Héber is questionable for San Jose while he recovers from a laceration he received in the Toronto game. Defender Anton Tinnerholm is out with the Achilles injury he suffered last October.

Deila expects that game against San Jose will be very different from the one we saw unfold against Toronto, calling the West Coast team “aggressive under pressure, man against man all over the pitch.” It will be “more intensive, more high-pressure,” Deila said, calling it “more a Philadelphia, Red Bulls kind of game.” They “play direct when they have the chance,” which will make it “tougher to break out from the defense with the ball.”

The NYCFC manager said his team needs to keep working, stay humble, and not be complacent. “We have to earn the right to play, and be tough inside the two boxes,” Deila said.

Match: NYCFC host San Jose Earthquakes

Date and Time: Sunday, May 1, 1 pm ET

Venue: Yankee Stadium

Watch: ESPN+

Stream: YES app

Listen: The game will be broadcast in both English and Spanish on NYCFC Radio