Rony Deila wants his New York City FC side to 'play with gas motors' when they take on FC Cincinnati after lacking sharpness in their opening-game defeat to DC United.
NYCFC started brightly against DC United and led through a Valentin Castellanos goal inside 15 minutes, only for Brendan Hines-Ike and Russell Canouse to turn the game around.
It is the third year running the Blues have failed to win their season opener, but they have a chance to respond against Cincinnati, who drew 2-2 with Nashville in its first outing.
Deila believes the key to success at Yankee Stadium will be his players' ability to sustain their performance levels across the full 90 minutes.
"We started with a lot of energy (against DC United) but weren't able to keep that up throughout the game, then we lost discipline and failed to sustain pressure," Deila said. "There are small but important things that we need to get right on Saturday. Hopefully we can take the first 20 minutes of that last performance into this one. We weren't sharp enough, and that was all over the pitch. We were sharp in 15 minutes, but after that, we looked like diesel motors instead of gas motors.
"For me, I want to see gas motors, not what I saw last Saturday - that's what we're working on this week."
Cincinnati went one further than NYCFC by squandering a two-goal advantage after just 12 minutes to draw with Nashville.
Luciano Acosta scored a debut goal in that match, but head coach Jaap Stam may look to bring in another new midfielder following Frankie Amaya's trade to New York Red Bulls this week.
"I feel comfortable with the midfield players that we've got," Stam said. "I know they can do the job but we're still looking for additional players in that position. "We know that, in the long run, we have to have more options in these positions. You need to have numbers to use players throughout the season. The ones that we have that played in Nashville, I'm very happy about them and what they've done, what they can bring on the ball as well."
New York City FC - Anton Tinnerholm
Right-back Tinnerholm set up Castellanos' goal against DC United last week for his 17th assist since the start of the 2018 MLS campaign.
That is seven more than any other defender in the competition over that time, something Cincinnati will have to be mindful of this weekend.
FC Cincinnati - Luciano Acosta
Acosta scored 24 league goals across four seasons with DC United, including double figures in the 2018 campaign.
The Argentinian is already off the mark after his first game for Cincinnati, which he will be aiming to add to against a NYCFC side without a home league clean sheet in four games.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- New York City FC have won all four previous meetings with Cincinnati, outscoring them 15-4.
- The 3.75 goals per match NYCFC have scored against Cincinnati is the highest of any team against another in the last decade in MLS (minimum of three meetings).
- These two teams each lost a lead in their season opening match, NYCFC losing 2-1 to D.C. United after scoring first and FC Cincinnati drawing 2-2 after leading 2-0 at Nashville. These were two of the three teams (along with Atlanta United) that did not drop a point from a winning position all last season.
- Cincinnati scored twice before Nashville came back to earn a draw in the season opening match for both teams. Cincinnati had scored just four total goals in its previous 10 away matches, last scoring more than once in a 3-2 defeat at New York Red Bulls in their opening game of the 2020 season.
- Brenner and Acosta both scored on their Cincinnati debuts against Nashville on Saturday. It was just the third time in the last three seasons that two different players scored for a team in their club debut, with Gadi Kinda and Alan Pulido doing so for Sporting Kansas City last season and the trio of Benny Feilhaber, Kei Kamara and Andre Shinyashiki doing so for Colorado Rapids in 2019.