And just like in the days of former manager Ronny Deila, who left the club last month for Belgium's Standard Liege, the Pigeons were led by an in-form Taty Castellanos. He scored twice on 10 shots, presenting a constant challenge for New England's backline.
Now with a league-leading 12 goals to his name, it would be easy to assume the Argentine forward is focused on pursuing a historical second consecutive Golden Boot presented by Audi award and an MLS Cup repeat with NYCFC. However, the striker reiterated his intention to leave the club this summer via a transfer abroad.
“I’ve been in this league for a while, and I would like to keep growing,” Castellanos said during an interview in Spanish with TUDN ahead of facing New England. “Being young and having the opportunity to go to Europe to another league, I think it would be something great and a dream for me.”
“Sometimes you’re not ready yet and it’s not the right time, but right now I think I am in my best moment,” he explained. “I’m enjoying myself and my mentality is different from when I first joined the league. I think right now there is an opportunity, and it would be great to keep growing in Europe and keep doing there what I’ve been doing here.”
"I always want more"
The 23-year-old, who scored a brace for the second consecutive weekend, moved atop the Golden Boot charts, keeping NYCFC within distance of the Eastern Conference's top spot. The Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls are right in the mix as Week 19 concludes.
NYCFC have put a valuation of around $15 million on the South American star and have already turned down offers in the winter from clubs like Argentina's River Plate, who offered close to $10 million, and Brazil's Palmeiras, who came closest with a $12.5 million bid. There's also been reported interest from English Premier League sides.
Still, the uncertainty of a possible move hasn’t distracted Castellanos, who has continued to record unprecedented numbers in MLS since his arrival in 2018 from Torque, an Uruguayan arm of City Football Group's global umbrella.
“I had the opportunity to win the Golden Boot last year, to be champion in the [Eastern] Conference and be champion of the entire league. I don’t have anything else to win here, but I’m still in this league,” he said. “I’m battling for the Golden Boot once again and I don’t give myself a ceiling. I always want more. I want to keep winning things, be the best player at my position, the best player in my team, the player in the league.”
That outlook remains, surely, until he gets the opportunity to play in Europe.
“I enjoy the day-to-day here. Even though there haven’t been concrete offers at this moment when the window just opened, I am calm,” he added. “At the same time, I do want to continue my development somewhere else. That would be great too, for my development and see how far I can go and see where I fit in Europe.”
“It’s a goal I’d like to set for myself and really see where I am at the European level.”