Ronny Deila: NYCFC star Maxi Moralez could return from knee injury next week

Maxi Moralez - NYCFC - focused on ball

Shortly after sending Alexandru Mitrita on loan to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli, New York City FC could soon have another Designated Player available for selection. 

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s home match against the New England Revolution (4:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada), head coach Ronny Deila said that Maxi Moralez could return as early as next week.

He highlighted their Oct. 14 match (Wednesday) at Orlando City SC, as well as their Oct. 18 one (Sunday) at Columbus Crew SC. The Argentine midfielder, 33, has been out with a knee injury since mid-September.

“It gets closer with Maxi,” Deila told reporters via virtual press conference. “I think he can have a chance on Wednesday or Sunday, maybe, if we do everything right or everything goes the way [it should]. That's of course positive for everybody if we can get him also available.”

In the meantime, Deila has confidence in his team’s form – especially in the final third. NYCFC have won three straight and are coming off a 4-1 win over D.C. United in their first match of 2020 at Yankee Stadium.

Deila said NYCFC created 11 “goal chances” in their last game, all while taking over 70% of possession. That gives him confidence that they’re rounding into form at the right time, Moralez or not.

“We have been consistent over a long, long time now,” Deila said. “We just have to keep on doing the same things, and of course there are things to develop all the time, but I feel the team is in a good place. I think we are mentally and physically ready for what's coming and we are doing the same things over and over again. It gives a lot of confidence when you get results as well, so we are optimistic for the future.”

Since returning from the MLS is Back Tournament, NYCFC have gone 7W-2L-2D to climb the Eastern Conference standings. They have the league’s toughest remaining schedule with seven regular-season games to go, though it’s a challenge they embrace.

Deila also focused on the collective rather than individuals. Against a New England side he dubbed one of their “toughest games so far,” they’ll need full buy-in.

“Of course we want quality players like Maxi and Heber and Mitri and all this to be on the pitch, but the other players, there's quality as well,” Deila said. “For me it's about the team and I don't see any problems in the last third of the pitch. I see we are creating chances ... and we start now to be more effective. That's of course with confidence and also getting into better areas, but it starts with the team spirit and the teamwork and the organization. From there, we can have individuals that shine."