New Year, New Faces at The Florida Cup
Florida Cup 2020 will be a tournament of firsts for some. Three of the four clubs will begin the year with new coaches, and all of the clubs have added players to their rosters. Fans at the Florida Cup will have the opportunity to see the new additions when the teams compete on January 15th at Exploria Stadium.
Corinthians’ Tiago Nunes and New York City FC’s Ronny Deila will make their club coaching debuts at the Florida Cup. Nunes was hired in December after two seasons at Athletico Paranaense, and Ronny Deila arrived last week from Valarenga in Norway’s First Division. Nunes, 39, won the Copa Sudamericana and Copa do Brasil with Paranaense. Addressing the media after his first training session on January 6th, Nunes expressed his excitement with his new position. “This is a first step in a new cycle, a new season, a dream come true,” he said, “because everyone who falls in love with football thinks about playing or being close to the world’s top clubs.”
Deila, the 44-year-old Norweigian, won the League and Cup while at Strømsgodset in Norway and is a two-time Scottish Premier League champion with Celtic. In his first interview with NYCFC.com, Deila stressed his desire for attacking football. “I’d rather win 5-4 than 1-0.” Nicknamed the “Norwegian Klopp” for his expressive personality, Deila emphasized the importance of fun in training and in the locker room and has made a name for himself with his lively celebrations. Deila also has a track record for developing young talent. The club announced that Nick Cushing and Mehdi Ballouchy will join Deila’s staff.
Vanderlei Luxemburgo, five-time Brasileirão champion, returns to Palmeiras for his fifth tenure with the club, and Juan Carlos Osorio, who won six titles with Nacional and spent two seasons with NYCFC-rival New York Red Bulls, has begun his first preseason after returning last July. Both coaches will use the time in Florida to prepare for their openers in the Paulista and the Copa Sudamericana respectively.
Luan will likely be the most anticipated debut of all players at the Florida Cup. Last week, Nunes called Luan, the former South American Player of the Year, “one of those athletes we often say that football is lacking. Creative, with potential for assists, goals, and set-pieces, we hope he can start the season well.” Victor Cantillo signed with Corinthians from Junior Barranquilla where he played in 118 games, scoring 4 goals, one a wonder strike against Nacional, his boyhood team, on November 17th. He will be the third Colombian to play for the club, following Freddy Rincón, who led Corinthians to the Club World Cup in 2000. Davó, the 20-year-old striker who played 30 games for Guaraní last season and Sidcley, Paulista winner with Corinthians in 2018, both joined last week.
Atlético Nacional will look to replace leading scorers Hernan Barcos and Pablo Ceppelini with a committee that includes Jefferson Duque, Andrés “El Rifle” Andrade, Déinner Quiñones, Fabián González, and Estéfano Arango. This past week, the club honored former captain Alexis Henríquez, known as Charales, who departs as the winningest player in club history, hoisting 13 titles, including the 2016 Copa Libertadores as captain.
Palmeiras has promoted 9 youth players to their preseason camp to support their veteran core. Led by Gabriel Veron, Golden Ball winner at the U-17 World Cup in 2019, the U-17 and U-20 teams have won an armful of trophies over the past two years. Gabriel Menino, Lucas Esteves, Alan, and Patrick de Paula, all world club champions at the youth level, will make their senior debuts.NYCFC returns 95 percent of their squad from the end of the 2019 season and is one of the more complete teams in MLS and likely to open the season as favorites to reach the MLS Cup out of the Eastern Conference. NYCFC will rely on Deila to oversee the development of homegrown players Tayvon Gray, James Sands, and Justin Haak, who all won the U.S. Developmental Academy Championship over the past two seasons.