NYCFC coach Ronny Deila looks on during CCL match at Red Bull Arena

With the 2021 MLS season upon us this weekend after a long offseason, the curtains are being drawn and it’s about to be showtime. All the work done in preseason and in player recruitment is about to be put to the test.

NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila, who publicly said a few weeks ago that the club needed to add a few players, is no longer concerned as his side prepares to kick the season off against D.C. United (Saturday, 8 pm ET | TV & streaming info)

“I think we’re much stronger now than we were last year,” Deila told media on a virtual press conference Thursday. “We’ve been one year together, we’ve developed a lot of the players. They’re taking steps all the time, we have a lot of young players. We’ve signed good players.”

NYCFC have acquired midfielder Alfredo Morales, left backs Malte Amundsen and Chris Gloster and winger Thiago Andrade. Deila also pointed to progression from the likes of Taty Castellanos, Keaton Parks and James Sands, as well as positive contributions from younger players like Andres Jasson, as reasons for optimism in the squad as a whole.

It has been more of a low-key offseason than many expected, though that doesn’t mean this roster will be the final product.

“We’re in a very good place right now. At the same time, we have open spots we can fill during the season,” Deila said. “Here in the US, playoffs is everything so we can get stronger and stronger during the season.”

The club still have an open DP spot, two open U-22 initiative spots as well as a bunch of GAM after trades of Alex Ring and Ronald Matarrita.

It's a crucial point for NYCFC, who have been among the most consistent teams in MLS over the past half-decade. No team has more points than them over the last five years and only LAFC have earned more points than NYCFC in the last three seasons. Unlike LAFC and most of the other dominant teams over this period, though, NYCFC are still searching for their first trophy in club history.

“We’ve always had good teams here, but we’ve never won anything,” Deila said. “For me, it’s the way you train. They way you prepare, the whole year, is how you end up with trophies. I’ve seen a big difference in the mentality in the boys. It’s completely different from (preseason) last year, you can’t compare it.”

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