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How does Nick Cushing's sub use compare to other MLS coaches?

Crunching the numbers from every regular-season match reveals that NYCFC's coach has been a bit substitution-shy.

Manager hasn't made many in-game changes this season. Photo:

One of the most common points of post-match discussion following New York City FC matches this season has been head coach Nick Cushing’s substitution decisions.

Questions regularly get raised as to why Cushing chose to not sub certain players in (i.e., Julián Fernández at Inter Miami CF), or why he didn’t make all five of his available changes, or why his New York City side remained unchanged as deep into a match as it did.

Even during the dispiriting, near-season-ending loss to DC United, it was hard not to question why NYCFC didn’t make any personnel changes at halftime, or why the team removed its striker, Mounsef Bakrar, for central midfielder Keaton Parks while down two goals in a must-not-lose match.

Substitutions are fertile ground for coach second-guessing, but the season-long focus on Cushing’s decisions made me wonder how NYCFC’s gaffer compares to his MLS peers. Where does Cushing actually rank league-wide in terms of substitutions used and when first substitutions get made in matches?

To find out, I went through the box score of every regular season MLS match played to date and noted the number of subs each team used and the minute in which each team made their first sub, then calculated averages and percentages based on all the collected data.

Here’s a rundown of how MLS head coaches have tended to use their subs this season, and how NYCFC’s manager compares to the averages and outliers.

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