Valentin Castellanos took on the role of super-sub Thursday evening, scoring a second-half brace to lift New York City FC to a 3-2 win over a shorthanded Houston Dynamo side at Yankee Stadium.
The Argentine provided the game-winner in the 93rd minute, smashing home his own rebound after a header that prompted a reaction save from Dynamo goalie Tyler Deric. Castellanos’ other goal made it 2-2 in the 83rd minute, as he headed home a Keaton Parks cross from around the penalty-kick spot.
Shortly before Castellanos stole the show, it looked as though the Dynamo could have snatched all three points. Come the 77th minute, Mauro Manotas curled home from 22 yards out to make it 2-1, even as Houston lost large portions of the possession battle.
The Dynamo were selective in taking their chances, because Romell Quioto was shown a red card in the 29th minute for elbowing Ronald Matarrita in the head. They were reduced to 10 men just after Houston midfielder Juan David Cabezas made it 1-1 in the 26th minute, lashing home a cross from Tommy McNamara.
NYCFC actually found an early breakthrough in the 16th minute via Alexandru Mitrita, as the Designated Player capped off some tic-tac-toe play by finishing from close range. The home side also saw midfield maestro Maxi Moralez return as a second-half substitute.
The match was sent into a weather delay at halftime that lasted just under 80 minutes, prompting a prolonged break at the interval. Heavy storms had rolled through the Bronx, drenching the field in rain.
- 16' – NYCFC – Alexandru Mitrita | WATCH
- 26' – HOU – Juan David Cabezas | WATCH
- 77' – HOU – Mauro Manotas | WATCH
- 83' – NYCFC – Valentin Castellanos | WATCH
- 90+3 – NYCFC – Valentin Castellanos | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: NYCFC secured a massive three points heading into this weekend’s high-profile matchup with Atlanta United. Both sides are chasing the Philadelphia Union for first place in the Eastern Conference standings, and Dome Torrent’s team has played the fewest regular-season matches in MLS. Meanwhile, Houston just can’t string any positive results together at the moment. This marked their third straight loss, as they’ve moved to 2-10-1 across their last 13 matches.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: One has to ask what Houston winger Romell Quioto was thinking, elbowing Ronald Matarrita in the first half. His team had just equalized, and who knows how the match would have gone if the Honduran didn’t halt his team’s momentum.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Valentin Castellanos came up huge for NYCFC, with his second goal ensuring all three points. Against a bunkered-in Dynamo side, the home club needed a couple moments of magic in the 18-yard box. Castellanos provided exactly that.