It’s a marquee matchup of arguably the top two teams in Group A, but New York City FC coach Ronny Deila doesn’t think the Philadelphia Union’s uptempo, counter-pressing style is conducive in the Orlando heat Thursday morning (9 am ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN in Canada) when the teams open their MLS is Back Tournament slate.
“A diamond in the midfield, very aggressive, very almost Red Bulls style — two strikers go very direct, so we have to prepare for that,” Deila told reporters in a call Tuesday. “But at the same time it's gonna be  degrees here. It’s going to be a different game from playing in a normal temperature. i think the game is going to be different from that high energy that is possible to play when its colder.”
Deila said he agreed with Union boss Jim Curtin’s assessment that NYCFC “on paper, are the best team in our conference.” And the first-year NYCFC boss said his team’s focus is more on how they can best play within their style than be overly concerned about the Union.
MLS is Back Group A sizzle
“They have consistency and their coach has been there for many years so you can see that there are good football team so that's gonna be a hard opponent,” he said. “But I'm agreeing with him as well that we have a lot of good players and showed last year what we are capable of doing and we want to improve this year. I think nit’s going to be an interesting game and a good test for us playing against Philadelphia.”
Although the return to play isn’t ideal, Deila said NYCFC’s first match in nearly four months reignites a love affair he’s had with the sport for nearly three decades.
“It’s great. When you are away from it, you miss it,” Deila said. “It’s like your wife when you are away from her for a couple of months and you get to see her again.”