New York City FC

NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila departs to lead Standard Liege

Lizzy Becherano
New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila to depart the club for Belgian side Standard Liege.
New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila to depart the club for Belgian side Standard Liege. / Ira L. Black - Corbis/GettyImages

New York City FC’s Ronny Deila is making his return to European football. 

The head coach has departed the MLS side to take over as manager of Belgian team Standard Liege. 

Assistant Nick Cushing will now take over as interim coach. Fellow assistants Rob Vartughian and Mehdi Ballouchy are to remain at NYCFC after signing contract extensions, while assistant Efraín Juárez follows Deila to Standard Liege.

“Everyone at the club would like to thank Ronny for the fantastic job he has done here," sporting director David Lee said in a release. 

"With Ronny at the helm, we have developed an even stronger culture of winning and togetherness and have accomplished our number-one goal of bringing silverware to this club, to this city and to our fans. We know this was not a decision Ronny took lightly, but we understand his desire to return to Europe and be closer to home. He has been a true leader since joining the club and we wish him well for the next challenge in his career.”

Deila first took charge of NYCFC in 2020, coming over from Norwegian club Vålerenga. In 2020, he guided the Eastern Conference side to MLS playoffs and the Concacaf Champions League quarter finals. 

But it wasn’t until his second year with the team that the Cityzens began to stand out. 

The team concluded the 2021 season in fourth place on the Eastern Conference table, and triumphed through the playoffs to reach the coveted MLS Cup for the first time in team history. Against all odds and at the home of the Portland Timbers, Deila inspired NYCFC to lift their first league trophy. 

Now, he departs NYCFC after leading the team to the top of the 2022 Eastern Conference standings and some of their best moments. 

"This was certainly not an easy decision for me and my family," Deila said in a release. "However, I feel this is the right time to take on this new challenge and return to Europe.  

“I would like to thank New York City Football Club and City Football Group. This is an incredible organization with extremely talented players, an amazing sporting department and fantastic leadership across the club including Ferran Soriano, Marty Edelman, David Lee and Brad Sims. Thank you to the fans, the passion you have for the club has fueled us on the field, and we couldn’t have accomplished what we did last season without you." 

Cushing will now take the helm as NYCFC return to the field on Sunday when hosting the Colorado Rapids at Yankee Stadium. 

Prior to joining the MLS side, Cushing served as head coach of Manchester City Women, winning six trophies, including the 2016 Super League title. He was subsequently named FA WSL Manager of the Year in 2016.

“While it is never ideal to have a change of head coach midseason, we are excited for Nick Cushing to have this opportunity and have the utmost confidence in him given his previous experience as one of the most decorated coaches in the women’s game," Lee said.