Spoiled for choice: MLS Cup champs NYCFC flex depth against CF Montréal

New York City FC notched their first win of the 2022 MLS season Saturday afternoon with a 4-1 thumping of CF Montréal, and the most impressive feat for the reigning MLS Cup champions may be that neither Maxi Moralez or Taty Castellanos scored.

Talles Magno had an especially strong outing, picking up an assist on Alexander Callens’ opening volley. The 19-year-old Brazilian then added his first goal at Yankee Stadium, knocking Montréal out of contention with a header. Santiago Rodriguez and Thiago Andrade also scored in the home opener.

“It's very important that there are many players that can score goals coming from the midfield and also set plays with central defenders,” head coach Ronny Deila said afterward. “Thiago scored, Talles scored, Santi scored. That's giving confidence to everybody and it makes us more dangerous when we can hurt them in many different areas.”

HIGHLIGHTS: New York City FC vs. CF Montréal | March 12, 2022

Magno admitted that only scoring once last regular season weighed on him, making Saturday's breakout extra sweet. He joined last year from Vasco da Gama for $8 million up front, one of the most expensive transfers in league history.

“I think I just put a lot of pressure on myself more than others on me; sometimes that helps and sometimes that hurts,” Magno said through a translator. “It's hard to score goals and to make assists, but as long as I put in the work and I stay dedicated to my craft, the goals and assists will come. I just keep giving myself more and more confidence as the season progresses.”

Deila has high expectations for his secondary scoring, a byproduct of the City Football Group scouting network and roster sporting director David Lee has amassed in the Bronx. While some MLS teams can be dependent on stars like Moralez and Castellanos, NYCFC boast much more than their big names. A year ago, Castellanos won the Golden Boot presented by Audi.

“I expect goals from Talles, Thiago and Santi. They are good finishers and they are able as well. It’ll come more and more,” Deila said. “It's a very good strength for the team that we have that we can score from different positions. We scored four today without Tati and Maxi scoring, and we know what those two can do so that's a strength for the team.”

Watching from the backline, Malte Amundsen noted how having so many final-third threats makes life challenging for Montréal and other opponents.

"I think it's always a strength, not relying on one or two players to create the goals in that way," the Danish left back said. "So when we have different goalscorers, it's only good for us and that means that if one player has a down period, then we have other players that can step up and score the goals when we need it."

With an eye on their Concacaf Champions League run, Deila subbed on four players in the second half, allowing some regulars to rest. They're carrying a 3-1 aggregate lead ahead of Tuesday's quarterfinal second leg (8 pm ET | FS1 in US, OneSoccer in Canada) against Comunicaciones FC in Guatemala, with a semifinal spot in the continental tournament on the line.

“Sitting on the bench there are more players that can do a good job,” Deila said. “But you can’t turn everybody around, you have to have some consistency in the team. I think the players have been excellent at restituting themselves both physically and mentally, and they keep performing over and over again. I’m already looking forward to Tuesday.”