BRONX, N.Y. — There’s an emerging theme for New York City FC, as they navigate through injuries and international call-ups to maintain an MLS-best unbeaten streak, which stretched to 11 games following a come-from-behind 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Union at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
Next man up is the basic premise, and Taty Castellanos was the latest example.
With Heber — who has six goals and three assists in 10 appearances — out for at least two weeks with a hamstring injury, Castellanos answered the bell and provided a similar influence as the Brazilian.
“It’s really sad that Heber is injured because he's been really doing a great job for the team,” Castellanos said. “But I had the opportunity and I’m ready to support the team and especially when I’m scoring goals, it’s helpful.”
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The 20-year-old Argentine drew a pair of penalty kicks (one that Philadelphia disputed) that Maxi Moralez converted and then added a second-half brace as part of three unanswered goals for the Cityzens, who erased a pair of one-goal deficits to beat the Eastern Conference leaders.
“I don't have doubt about Taty because I say many times in the [training] facility, he never gave up. Never. And it’s the best way to to convince the coach,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said. “I say many times, it’s impossible to win something with just 14 players. They have to be ready to play. And he has these opportunities.”
In the days leading up to the game, Torrent touted Castellanos as a player in “top, top form.” Castellanos repaid his coach’s confidence with his best performance since arriving on loan from Club Atletico Torque last July.
“It’s really good that he's speaking that way of me,” Castellanos said. “I work really hard every single day to be ready and I think it's really good that he's thinking that of me. I’m just getting ready and I want to be helpful to the group.”
Castellanos especially combined well with Moralez when NYCFC changed their shape to a 4-2-3-1 for the second half.
“I think it was a great game, the first couple of minutes he was a bit isolated because we didn’t have a good half,” Moralez told MLSsoccer.com. “Luckily we had the penalty and in the second half the team improved and he had a special night.”
Torrent also said Castellanos, and Keaton Parks, who earned his first MLS start, deserved the chance because of the work they’ve put in on the training ground.
“I don't have doubts about my players,” Torrent said. “I say many times to them, they have to be ready when I decide to play them.”