The young Argentine forward started the season on fire, with a goal in each of NYCFC’s first four matches. The club went 2-1-1 during that stretch.
But the 22-year-old, who signed a five-year contract extension in May, hasn't scored since May 8, with NYCFC 3-4-1 since, including consecutive defeats. They sit seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, just above the playoff line with the rival New York Red Bulls level on points in eighth.
“If you look at the way they play, they pass the eye test with flying colors. They are a fun, good, occasionally devastating team to watch. The underlying numbers all back that up, the boxscore numbers do not,” Matt Doyle said of NYCFC. “And how you feel about NYCFC, I think comes down to how you feel about Taty Castellanos.
"His movement is brilliant, his defense is elite, his hold-up play is very, very good. He scored four goals in four games out the gates. He has not scored in two months now and it’s not for lack of chances. He is just, whether it’s PKs or one-time finishes or sitters or pullbacks, he cannot put the ball in the back of the net.”
Since scoring his last goal, Castellanos has taken 27 shots, nine on frame, but is on an eight-match goalless streak.
“I’ve said this in the past: every goal that Taty Castellanos has ever scored feels like an accident to me," Doyle said. "He has this Gyasi \[Zardes\] thing where the ball is ricocheting off of him and he’s falling down and he’s the last guy to get a toe-poke. Even though he checks all of these boxes, he just doesn’t look like a 15-, 20-goal a year scorer to me and I think that puts a limit on what NYCFC’s ceiling is and, frankly, it’s costing them points in this point in the [season] because they are outplaying whoever they are up against basically week after week after week.”
While Castellanos has gone cold, help could be on the way with Heber expected to soon return from his ACL surgery.
The Brazilian striker, who hasn’t yet fully trained with the club, has scored 16 goals in 34 regular-season matches.
“The question is if they’re good enough and they’ve been good enough because Heber should be coming back around now, to hold ‘til then and can he find any level of form this season to kind of match in where Taty does all this work for you,” David Gass said. “Then he can be that finishing piece if he’s healthy.”