Ronny Deila: NYCFC may be without injured Maxi Moralez "for many weeks"

Maxi Moralez - NYCFC - upset look

New York City FC face a must-win game against Orlando City SC Tuesday (8 pm ET | TUDN, Twitter, TSN) and they’ll do so without one of the top playmakers in Major League Soccer.

Veteran Maxi Moralez, who has 36 assists over the last two years, will be out of the critical Group A encounter after suffering a quad injury in a 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union Thursday.

NYCFC coach Ronny Deila said the Argentine is expected to have an MRI on Monday and could be sidelined for a significant amount of time.

“As it looks now, he’s out for the game and [could be] out for many weeks,” Deila said in a media call Sunday afternoon. “Of course that’s a big setback for us.”

While no one can truly fill Moralez’s playmaking boots, Deila discussed a few options he has in the midfield.

Perhaps the most likely replacement in NYCFC's midfield triumvirate is Jesus Medina, who came on for Keaton Parks at halftime in the opener.

“I think Medina’s best role is a No. 8, I think he’s good between the lines, I think we have to work with getting him more dangerous with assists and scoring more goals as well,” Deila said. “I think he has a lot of improvements, he looks sharp now.”

Gedion Zelalem, who replaced Moralez for the final 14 minutes against the Union is another option. The 23-year-old impressed Deila in his cameo, and the first-year coach called the former US youth international “technically one of the best players we have in the team.”

But Zelalem has had limited game action since serious injuries during his time at Arsenal, and Deila said he’s still working his way back to match fitness.

Deila said Zelalem also had an injection for some knee pain felt after the match.

“He’s very good at scanning, when we have space, he’s good to use the ball in the right way,” Deila said. "Sometimes he overplays a little too much, so he needs to make it more simple.”

Deila also preached patience with Zelalem, who “has been out 18 months without playing football.” That message is as much for fans and media as it is for Zelalem himself, with Deila noting that “you have to take the stairs, not the elevator,” when it comes to such a long recovery.

“You have to be patient. He wants to conquer the whole world every time he plays, of course because he’s ambitious,” Deila said. "This is a guy I believe can be a really good football player."

An NYCFC team still searching for their first MLS goal this season will also likely be without Alexandru Mitrita, who suffered a training knock and missed the opener against the Union.

"Mitri is better, but we have to see if he’s ready for the game or not," Deila said. "He’s not training full today. We’ll see."