Pumas defeated NYCFC 3-2 in penalties during the Leagues Cup quarter-finals after a gruelling 1-1 draw in regular time, but head coach Ronny Deila isn’t worried about the elimination.
The manager congratulated the Mexican side on their win before detailing that the experience served as a learning lesson for his young side.
“There was one team on the pitch today for almost 90 minutes,” Deila said after the game. “If we do this performance over time, then it’s going to come because we are a young team and we are learning all the time.
“But we know also once you give Pumas time, they are good football players and they put the ball into the net once you leave the space. So the learning from these games gives you confidence that we are capable of beating teams like this. At the same time, a good performance and they need only one chance and you need to bury your own chances.”
NYCFC kicked off the scoring in the 61st minute with a goal from Valentin Castellanos before Rogerio equalized for Pumas minutes later. Beyond the score, Deila is confident in how his team performed and the potential they have moving forward.
“They don’t have a shot on target before they get the goal, I think, and we are in the last third of the pitch all the time,” Deila said. “That’s the way I want them to play. We are entertaining a fantastic crowd today, the energy and intensity in the stadium.
“I just hope everybody comes back again to watch us play because this team deserves a lot of people watching them. This is the start of something really, really good. But it’s tough tonight to sit there without being through to the semifinal, I have to say that.”
NYCFC and USMNT defender James Sands agreed with Deila, adding that the score does not accurately reflect the efforts on the pitch. The Eastern Conference team currently sit third on the table with 28 points in 17 matches, something Sands and Deila agree is priority at the moment.
“I think we outplayed them for most of the match,” Sands said. “We created chances, and on another day, it’s three or four nothing. Obviously it didn’t work out that way and that’s something we’ll have to look at, but I think there are positives to take and hopefully this experience is going to help us for the MLS playoffs. That’s our biggest goal, I think.”