The rumors circulating last week turned out to be true: Ronny Deila has left New York City FC to take over as manager of Belgian side Standard de Léige in a deal that was finalized over the weekend and made public this morning. Deila is reportedly already in Belgium where Standard started preseason training today, and he is expected to run his first practice tomorrow.
NYCFC named Nick Cushing interim head coach, and will be on the touchline this Sunday when New York City face Colorado Rapids at Yankee Stadium. Cushing inherits a team riding an eight-game unbeaten streak that carried them to the top of the Eastern Conference table after a slow start to the season. The 37-year-old Cushing was formerly the successful head coach of Manchester City Women, who compiled a stunning 145-19-29 record under his tenure. Cushing moved to New York City to take on an assistant role under Deila in 2020.
The news caught NYCFC fans by surprise, who expected star striker Taty Castellanos to leave during the summer window. Whispers linking Standard and Deila were first heard in May, but it wasn't until more detailed reports by Belgian journalist Kevin Sauvage were published late last week did it seem possible that Deila could leave NYCFC just six months after lifting the MLS Cup, and in the middle of guiding the team through their current stunning run of form. Standard reportedly had to buy out the rest of Deila’s contract, which didn’t expire until the end of this season
Deila will be joined by Efraín Juárez, who was an assistant coach at NYCFC. The New York City front quickly office moved to sign other key assistants to contract extensions, and announced that Rob Vartughian and Mehdi Ballouchy will remain with the club.
Here is the complete statement issued by NYCFC this morning:
New York, N.Y., June 13, 2022 – New York City Football Club (NYCFC) today announced that Head Coach Ronny Deila is leaving the Club to join Belgian side Standard Liège, effective immediately. The Club has named Assistant Coach Nick Cushing as the Interim Head Coach.
The Norwegian coach departs after two and a half years in charge having led the Club to its first MLS Cup and delivering the first professional sports championship to New York City in over a decade. Also departing the Club and joining Ronny at Standard Liège is Assistant Coach Efraín Juárez. Nick Cushing, Rob Vartughian and Mehdi Ballouchy have all signed new long-term contracts with the Club.
David Lee, NYCFC Sporting Director, said: “Everyone at the Club would like to thank Ronny for the fantastic job he has done here. With Ronny at the helm, we have developed an even stronger culture of winning and togetherness and have accomplished our number-one goal of bringing silverware to this Club, to this City, and to our fans.
“We know this was not a decision Ronny took lightly, but we understand his desire to return to Europe and be closer to home. He has been a true leader since joining the Club and we wish him well for the next challenge in his career.”
Cushing won an impressive six trophies during his time as Manchester City Women’s Head Coach, including the 2016 Super League title and was named the FA WSL Manager of the Year in 2016.
Lee, continued: “While it is never ideal to have a change of Head Coach mid-season, 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.
“After playing a vital role in winning MLS Cup and having been with the Club many years, we’re extremely pleased that Nick, Rob, and Mehdi have signed new contracts and will remain with the Club for the foreseeable future. This move ensures consistency in our culture and philosophy and that the same high standards will be upheld. The Club and First Team remain in an extremely strong position with a top-tier coaching staff providing consistency during this transition period.
“We are currently top of the Eastern Conference and are looking forward to competing for more trophies in all remaining competitions this season including U.S. Open Cup and the Campeones Cup. Our aim to once again be MLS Cup Champions has not changed.”
Cushing, said: “We have an incredible team here at NYCFC and it’s a great group of players to work with. 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.”
Since his arrival on January 6, 2020, Ronny oversaw an impressive 46-29-15 record across all competitions and delivered the Club’s first silverware in December 2021 following an unforgettable run to the MLS Cup title.
Deila said: “This was certainly not an easy decision for me and my family. However, I feel this is the right time to take on this new challenge and return to Europe.
“I would like to thank New York City Football Club and City Football Group. This is an incredible organization with extremely talented players, an amazing Sporting department and fantastic leadership across the Club including Ferran Soriano, Marty Edelman, David Lee and Brad Sims. Thank you to the fans, the passion you have for the Club has fueled us on the field, and we couldn’t have accomplished what we did last season without you.
The Club would like to congratulate Nick Cushing on his new role and sincerely thank Ronny and Efraín for their hard work and commitment and wish them every success in their future coaching endeavors.