Sports

NYCFC Coach Ronny Deila Leaves For Belgian Club

New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila has left the team after two-and-a-half seasons to manage Belgian side Standard Liège, the MLS club announced Monday. Assistant coach Nick Cushing will take over as interim head coach for NYCFC.

Deila joined the MLS side ahead of the 2020 campaign and led NYCFC to its first-ever MLS Cup win in 2021. Last season, NYCFC hit their stride right as the playoffs approached with a five-game unbeaten streak to end the regular season. In the postseason, the team came out on top in the Eastern Conference and ultimately prevailed in a 4-2 penalty shootout final win against the Portland Timbers. During his tenure in New York, Deila oversaw a 46-29-15 record across all competitions, including back-to-back league playoff appearances.

“Everyone at the Club would like to thank Ronny for the fantastic job he has done here,” said NYCFC Sporting Director David Lee in the club’s statement. “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.”

Following an extensive playing career in his homeland of Norway, Deila then held managerial roles at Strømsgodset, Vålerenga and Scotland’s Celtic FC, where he won back-to-back Scottish Premiership titles. Now, the 46-year-old will return to Europe in charge of historic Belgian side Standard Liège, which finished in just 14th place in the Belgian First Division A standings last season.

“This was certainly not an easy decision for me and my family,” Deila said in a statement. “However, I feel this is the right time to take on this new challenge and return to Europe.”

NYCFC, which joined MLS in 2015 as an expansion team, have had three other managers in their history — two of which have since joined European club sides: now-Inter Miami CF assistant coach Jason Kreis, now-Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira, and now-Galatasaray coach Domènec Torrent. In 2018, Vieira had also left midway through the MLS season — during the European offseason and summer transfer window — for Ligue 1 side OGC Nice.

Prior to Deila’s departure, NYCFC had been enjoying a dazzling start to the 2022 campaign. The team currently sits atop the Eastern Conference with 26 points from the first 13 games. The team does not have immediate plans to bring in a new leader midseason naming assistant Cushing, who signed a new contract extension with the team, as interim head coach. The 37-year-old Englishman began his coaching career at Manchester City, working his way up to head coach of Manchester City Women, where he won six trophies, including the 2016 Super League title. He was named the FA WSL Manager of the Year in 2016. He joined NYCFC with Deila in January 2020.

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