Ronny Deila believes his side are showing great consistency as the MLS Cup champions look to make up for their poor start to the 2022 season.
New York City FC are now unbeaten in five MLS matches and won in the US Open Cup last week. They beat the Columbus Crew 2-0 last time out and now head to D.C. United just three points off the top of the Eastern Conference.
It is an upturn in form that has pleased Deila, who believes his team are still developing.
“I think we have been consistent,” he said. “We have gone six games without losing. We have talked about putting together a streak with good results and making it so our lowest level is so high that we get something from every game and I think we do that now.
“I think we attack better now than we have done with more width in the game, more real wingers, I feel there’s a lot of development in this team. We are starting to see relationships within this group get better.
“I’m very pleased that we take away a lot of points from home. That’s important if you’re going to come as high as possible in the league – hopefully winning – and get to the playoffs.”
D.C. came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Inter Miami in their last match, with coach Chad Ashton saying: “Very professional, a great mentality. We obviously need to clean up the goals, it’s another moment where we turn off, set-piece again, we’ve got to do better, it’s hurting us.
“But the ability to keep your composure, stay professional, get the goal back right before halftime. The timing of that was massive.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
D.C. United – Taxi Fountas
Taxi Fountas scored D.C.’s first goal against Miami on Saturday before assisting on the second. Fountas has scored (five) or assisted on (two) all seven of D.C.’s MLS goals since his first start in the competition on April 23.
NYCFC – Valentin Castellanos
Valentin Castellanos scored for the first time since April 24 when he netted against Columbus. The Argentine has six goals so far this season, from nine appearances.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– NYCFC have won four of its last six matches against D.C. United (D1 L1), including a 6-0 victory in the most recent meeting last October.
– The six-goal loss was the largest margin of defeat in D.C. United’s MLS history and tied for the largest margin of victory in NYCFC’s MLS history.
– D.C. United have lost only one of its last four matches (W2 D1) following a four-match losing streak in March-April. The 1-1 draw with Miami on Saturday ended a run of 14 straight D.C. matches that ended with a winner (W6 L8).
– NYCFC have won four of its last five matches (D1), though all of those games were played at home. NYCFC has won just two of its last 16 regular season away matches (D5 L9) dating back to last July.
– Brazilian Talles Magno and Argentinian Castellanos scored NYCFC’s two goals against Columbus on Saturday. Brazilians and Argentinians have combined to score 15 ofNYCFC’s 21 MLS goals this season.