Ronny Deila made his New York City FC head coaching debut on Wednesday, but those hoping to see him lead his full squad will have to wait a bit longer.
Deila trotted out a reserve-laden side in NYCFC’s Florida Cup opener, a 2-1 loss to Corinthians, giving his first-choice players a rest and giving a handful of academy players and rookies an extended run-out against the veteran Brazilian opponents.
Veteran defender Sebastian Ibheaga, young standout James Sands and newly-acquired midfielder Gedion Zelalem were among the notable starters on Wednesday, though Deila made wholesale substitutions in the 35th minute.
“What I was most pleased about was the discipline,” Deila said. “We kept together, compact the whole game. We played against a really good team and all of the youngsters were very, ver impressive to get out of that and win the second half1-0. I was very proud of the team spirit and the discipline.”
Corinthians dominated play throughout the night, scoring a pair of highlight reel-worthy goals in the first half to take control. NYCFC fielded mostly academy players and rookies in the second half, but still managed to keep the match close, even pulling a goal back on a goal by academy player Niko Kapanadze.
“The players had two and a half months without training with the club, so of course it’s crazy to put the older ones straight into the game, it’s a big risk for injuries.”
Deila said he would play starters on Saturday in NYCFC’s Florida Cup finale against Brazilian side Palmeiras.
NYCFC is five weeks away from the official start of its season, with a Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 clash against Costa Rican side San Carlos. The first leg of that series takes place on February 20.