Taty Castellanos goal celebration at CHI

Taty Castellanos is enjoying his best run of form as a New York City FC forward with four goals in his last two games and five in his last five matches overall. It’s the perfect time for the young Argentine to get hot as NYCFC head to Exploria Stadium to meet Orlando City SC Saturday (12 pm ET | TV & streaming info) in Round One of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.

The genesis of this breakout is rooted in a one-on-one meeting with NYCFC coach Ronny Deila three months ago.

At the time, Castellanos’ minutes were limited after starting all five of the club’s matches at the MLS is Bak Tournament. His goalless run for 2020 stretched to 15 regular season matches and that combination of lack of production and playing time had Castellanos at his lowest point of the season.

Taty Castellanos was named MLS Player of the Month for October-November 

“We spoke about many different things,” Castellanos said through a translator in a video conference call with reporters Wednesday. “I wasn’t playing a lot, I wasn’t in a very good mood, I was a little bit down because I wasn’t playing. Both of us worked on a board where Ronnie explained what he was asking of me, what he was feeling, where I was doing things properly. That helped me a lot. I’m thankful for that opportunity.”

Part of that conversation included Deila asking Castellanos, who leads the league in shots on goal per 90 minutes, to refocus his energy on making the right kind of runs, especially those into the 18-yard box. 

“We agreed I needed to stop running like crazy all over the ground and start focusing more on the box,” Castellanos said. “Definitely that helped me a lot in order to have me scoring goals right now.”

Watch: Taty Castellanos nets hat trick vs. New York Red Bulls

Castellanos started 10 of NYCFC’s final 11 regular-season games, scoring in four of those games including a hat trick against the New York Red Bulls on Nov. 1.

It is also no coincidence Castellanos’ best run of form has been with fellow countryman Maxi Moralez healthy and providing the service. Moralez started the last four games of the regular season and registered three assists in the last two matches.

“Maxi makes me play better,” Castellano said. “Maxi’s a very good player and I try to take advantage of all the things Maxi can provide to the game.”

While Orlando City SC have dangerous attacking weapons in Daryl Dike, Chris Mueller and Nani, Deila said there’s plenty for the Lions to worry about as well. Perhaps chief among them is Castellanos.

“They are a good team. They are there because they played really good offensive football, they defend well as well and they have some individuals as well that can hurt us,” Deila said. “As normal it’s, first of all, about ourselves that we get out our potential and get out the way we want to play so they have to start thinking about us instead of us thinking about them. But at the same time, we have to be aware of a couple of things that are their strengths and of course there are weaknesses.”