Then the 2021 Golden Boot presented by Audi winner doubled the hosts’ advantage at Yankee Stadium, another entry into their formidable partnership and how dangerous the defending MLS Cup champions’ attack can be.
“Talles is a great guy, he works on his craft week in and week out. He’s always training and trying to get better,” Castellanos said postgame. “Personally, on and off the field, we get along great, we have a good friendship and there's good chemistry there.
“Hopefully we can continue to play together many games moving forward and obviously with my experience being at the club for a while, just teaching him and helping him get adjusted to the club and helping him in whatever way he needs to keep developing his game.”
Magno, 19, arrived at NYCFC almost exactly one year ago from Vasco da Gama in his home country for a reported $12 million. He’s now up to 2g/5a in 10 league games this year, plus was recently named to the Concacaf Champions League Best XI and won the competition’s Young Player Award.
Castellanos, 23, has 6g/1a in nine league games and continues to generate buzz around a possible outgoing transfer, commanding a reported $20 million price tag. The Argentine’s now in his fifth season in the Bronx, essentially making him a veteran in NYCFC’s young, South American-heavy offense.
With Magno and Castellanos leading their attacking hydra, NYCFC have a plethora of options powering this rich vein of form.
“Our lowest level has to be so high that we get something from every game and I think we do that now,” manager Ronny Deila said. “I think we attack at the right rhythm. The age of the group also, we are starting to build relations inside the pitch. I’m very pleased we could take away a lot of points here at home. That’s important if we are going to finish as high as possible in the league. Hopefully winning and then getting to the playoffs.”
NYCFC’s attack boasts so many options that they even deployed Maxi Moralez deeper in midfield, with the No. 10 setting up Castellanos’ chipped-home clincher. He’s regaining match fitness after missing their CCL semifinal series and nearly an entire month.
“I think he’s the smartest football player on the pitch, he can play any position except for maybe goalkeeper,” Deila said of Moralez. “He organized the team, he can run and on the ball he is really good. That’s one positive of playing him in that role. When he plays in the No. 10 he comes down to get on the ball, so he is often in the position.
“We need one more player upfront to create more and now when he is down there we have something in the No. 10 or even two eights. There is more power forward, but the big thing is if he can do the defensive work and be smart in his positioning. I think he did that really well today.”
It’s almost a game of Whac-a-Mole when it comes to stopping NYCFC’s attack, something Castellanos revels in as he and Magno spearhead their front line.
“We have a deep squad,” Castellanos said. “Now we have the US Open Cup to look forward to playing in. Anybody who is ready to step up will step up and put in 100% effort. We aren’t too worried about rotations, we are just happy with everybody on the squad.”