Back in the NYCFC groove: Pellegrini golazo ends 11-match winless streak


New York City FC had just snapped an 11-match winless run spanning 10 weeks with a gritty 1-0 victory over CF Montréal at Stade Saputo.

But Nick Cushing turned the page in a New York minute when the head coach was asked about the victory’s impact on his club.

“The team is happy. The team is celebrating. But the team also knows that it's one win in 12 so we're realistic, we're humble, and we'll make sure that we prepare,” Cushing said after Saturday night's rain-delayed game.

“It means nothing if we don't win against Charlotte.”

Charlotte FC are the next opponent Wednesday evening (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass) at Citi Field, another six-point affair in the Eastern Conference for an NYCFC team that moved to within two points (11th place) of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line.

The Cityzens hadn’t won since a 3-1 victory over FC Dallas in Queens back on April 22, going 0W-5L-6D ever since. But they’ve also not lost in their last six, recording clean sheets in three of those matches.

Cushing thought the streak should have been broken in Atlanta, but they conceded a stoppage-time equalizer by Nick Firmino. And there were positives to take from a 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park last weekend.

“A lot of the draws were games that maybe we could have won, but we didn't do enough to win. With a team that is getting itself back on its feet, it is about learning from previous games,” Cushing said, with NYCFC expected to be busy during the upcoming Secondary Transfer Window (July 5 to Aug. 2).

“I've said before it's galvanizing this team – even when we were losing or not winning and drawing, this team would come in the next day and the mood was good, energy was good, the focus on work and the ability to reflect and really accept the negative feedback, it’s a sign of a real team. The only thing we were missing were results.”

The three points were earned at Stade Saputo, where Montréal had won seven of their previous eight games this season.

And the goal was scored by Matias Pellegrini, whose first in an NYCFC kit was a true golazo, a world-class full-time volley in the 33rd minute. It's also a goal Cushing told the Argentine was coming after training Friday.

“I really believed it because he works like an animal,” Cushing said. "You see tonight, he trains the way he plays.”

Pellegrini was one of Inter Miami CF’s first-ever signings, but only had one goal and four assists in 19 appearances with the Herons. He arrived in New York last August, but only made four substitute appearances during the 2022 campaign.

This year, the 22-year-old has become an integral cog in NYCFC’s attack, starting 10 of the 15 matches he’s played in.

“It's a fantastic feeling. I feel really great. It's something that's been a long time coming for me. I've been working very hard. I was able to get an assist last week against Portland and the goal finally came, so really happy to be able to score,” Pellegrini said through a translator.

“But more importantly, it's the victory and the win that we were able to pull off today. It means a lot to us, to the group. And that's the most important thing for me apart from the goal.”