Injury concerns linger as NYCFC face Philadelphia Union in Eastern Conference final

Nick Cushing on the team's injury concerns ahead of the Eastern Conference final.
Nick Cushing on the team's injury concerns ahead of the Eastern Conference final. / Howard Smith/ISI Photos/GettyImages

New York City FC is set to take on Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference final on Sunday at Subaru Park. The Cityzens are coming off two great victories, defeating Inter Miami 3-0 and CF Montreal 3-1 to reach the coveted final.

But interim head coach Nick Cushing voiced concerns ahead of the upcoming match, as several key figures remain in question. Lingering injury concerns haunt forward Talles Magno, Maxi Moralez, Alfredo Morales, Maxime Chanot and Tayvon Gray. 

Though Cushing is not officially ruling out their availability, the players did not train to their maximum potential the week prior to the final. 

“We haven't ruled them out, but it's going to be so difficult to roll those guys out in a game like this when they haven't seen the training field all week,” interim head coach Nick Cushing said Friday. “It's unfortunate for us in this game, but one more day. We have a terrific medical team here and until they tell me they're out, I'm still considering them.”

Magno and Moralez saw time against CF Montreal, while Maxime Chanot kicked off before exiting the field in the 14th minute with an injury. Morales and Gray have yet to feature this offseason. 

“It’s just really disappointing for us. It’s unfortunate that we go to Philadelphia with this situation. But at the same time, we’ve worked hard to get here and we’ll continue to work hard to make sure that we get to the final,” Cushing added. 

But NYCFC is used to coming into the MLS playoffs as underdogs. The 2021 postseason saw the the Eastern Conference side go against odds to reach the final and triumph over the Portland Timbers at Providence Park for their first ever league trophy. 

Though the Philadelphia Union will be no easy opponent, Nick Cushing knows the challenge his side has ahead of them.

“I have huge respect for [Philadelphia], Like I said, they're the best team in the league and probably the favorites to go on and win MLS Cup. We know there's going to be a really, really difficult game,” he said. 

“We know they're going to be hugely motivated. They've been the best team this year in the conference, if not across two conferences. They'll feel that they've missed an opportunity to get to MLS Cup last year and losing in front of their home fans. This year they'll want to put that right.”