The result improved NYCFC’s home record to 7-1-4 and moved them within one point of first place in the Eastern Conference, with games still in hand.
NYCFC completely dominated the first half, with over 70 percent of possession and almost all of the scoring chances. But they only found the back of the net once, with Castellanos timing a run perfectly, collecting a brilliant chip from Maxi Moralez, and calmly finishing past Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room in the 36th minute.
The goal was Castellanos' fifth in his last four games, and the assist was the league-leading 17th for Moralez.
The Crew picked up their play in the second half with NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson making a couple of strong plays to thwart David Accam en route to his 60th MLS shutout. But the equalizer never came as the Crew’s six-game unbeaten streak was snapped, despite a few big saves from Room, including a late one on a Alexandru Mitrita breakaway.
With both teams preparing to face nearby foes for Heineken Rivalry Week this weekend, a few regulars were left out of the lineups, including Crew top scorer Gyasi Zardes. Romario Williams made his first MLS start in Zardes' place, and summer signing Gary Mackay-Steven made his second start for NYCFC.
- 36' — NYC — Valentin Castellanos | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: NYCFC probably should have won by a more comfortable margin against an undermanned team, but the most important thing is climbing up the Eastern Conference table. The Crew, who are trying to make a last-gasp push toward the playoffs, put up a valiant effort in the second half to nearly capture an improbable road point.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It’s got to be the game’s only goal. Watch the incredible ball from Moralez to set it up, and then watch it a few more times.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Moralez and Johnson both have solid claims here, but the red-hot Castellanos probably made the biggest difference in this one and is coming alive at the right time for NYCFC.