Allan Cruz netted for the hosts to open the scoring in the 30th minute, but Castellanos and Heber each scored before the halftime whistle and added another tally apiece in the second half to round out the 4-1 final.
Cincinnati had the first crack at the opener after Roland Lamah was brought down in the box in the midst of a breakaway run on goal, drawing a penalty kick whistle from referee Nima Saghafi. But NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson would be up to the task, stuffing the shot from the spot by Emmanuel Ledesma to keep the match scoreless.
The hosts would find the game's first goal on the half-hour mark after Andrew Gutman sent in a cross that found a streaking Cruz, who unleashed a laser strike past Johnson and into the net. But it would be a short-lived advantage, as Castellanos found NYCFC's first goal just two minutes later with a nifty bending shot past Cincinnati goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton to level the contest at 1-1.
NYC would have a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 35th minute when Gutman was whistled for a handball in his own area, giving Maxi Moralez a look of his own from the spot for the go-ahead goal. But Tyton matched Johnson and saved Morales' attempt to maintain the 1-1 scoreline.
The visitors would find their second in first-half stoppage time, however, as Heber bagged his 11th goal of the season with a well-taken finish past Tyton to give NYCFC a 2-1 halftime advantage.
Cincinnati just missed the equalizer in the 65th minute after Victor Ulloa sent in a bending free kick that resulted in a look on goal from Mathieu Deplagne, but the attempt sailed just over the bar, allowing NYCFC to retain the one-goal lead. Castellanos then found the dagger in the 71st after a corner kick deflected to him directly in front of the net for an easy headed finish, with another late tally from Heber representing insurance on the 4-1 final scoreline.
- 30' - CIN - Allan Cruz | WATCH
- 32' - NYC - Valentin Castellanos | WATCH
- 45' +3 - NYC - Heber | WATCH
- 71' - NYC - Valentin Castellanos | WATCH
- 89' - NYC - Heber | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: NYCFC continue to play well on the road, as this boosted their record away from Yankee Stadium up to 5-4-4 on the season and also vaulted them up to third in the East with 41 points from 24 matches. On the other side, it's another disappointing defeat for cellar-dwelling Cincinnati, with this one carrying a bit of extra sting after they managed to bag the first goal on their home field.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Castellanos' equalizer was a gorgeous highlight, but it was also a deflating blow for the home side after they had just taken the lead two minutes earlier, making it the easy choice for the match-defining moment of this contest.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: There are two good choices here with two different players scoring a brace, but we'll give the nod to Castellanos, as his bending first-half strike was the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch.
- CIN: Sunday, August 25 vs. Columbus Crew SC (6 ET | FS1 in US, MLS Live on DAZN in Canada)
- NYC: Wednesday, August 21 vs. Columbus Crew SC (7 pm ET | MLS Live on ESPN+ in US, TSN2 in Canada)