Was this the last NYCFC game for “Taty?”
Valentin Castellanos was denied a first-half goal at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night and NYCFC’s 23,000 fans booed the reverse call. He was then substituted in the half and received a standing ovation.
He wouldn’t get his league-leading 14th goal or get another chance.
“Taty” arrived on the touchline and there were hugs. After NYCFC, the defending MLS Cup champions extended their unbeaten streak to 10 games at Yankee Stadium, CitiField and other venues with a 2-0 win over Inter Miami FC, Castellanos received more hugs when leaving the playing field.
Fans cheered again. Castellanos waved to the crowd as it was possibly his last appearance as an NYCFC player at Yankee Stadium. The MLS top scorer and reigning MLS 2021 Golden Boot winner for most goals, has been linked to a lucrative deal and loaned to Spain’s LaLiga side Girona FC.
Although the signing is unofficial and NYCFC officials have remained silent on the loss of a popular and franchise player, the cheers and hugs would indicate that the NYCFC will need to replace a major cog in its offensive offense.
MLS will also lose another star player who brings a lot to the table, and due to some regulations it is permissible to prevent Castellanos from jumping ship, although this could become a problem down the line with lucrative TV deals. with the MLS. Next year.
Castellanos quickly got dressed and left Yankee Stadium without saying it might be his last game in the Bronx. From now on, and without its release becoming official, it is assumed that it will be available next Saturday night during the NYCFC trip to Montreal.
Then you heard postgame comments from goaltender Sean Johnson, four saves, 11th league-leading clean sheet, his third in a row.
“I think he meant so much to the club over the years, not just with the golden boot, but with everything he gave, his energy in every game and training session. He brought the team to life, and his performance spoke for itself. He is a quality player. I’m sure he’ll crush it wherever he is next,” he said.
Johnson said Castellanos will always be part of the NYCFC family. A loyal NYCFC fanbase posted “Thank you Taty” and “Muchas Gracias” signs. They showed signs of love and support.
It certainly looks like Valentin Castellanos won’t be in the Bronx when NYCFC returns to its home base in September. In between, the team is on the road and because of Yankees baseball games, they are forced to use alternate home sites in Flushing at Citi Field and across the Hudson River at the Red Bulls Arena.
I asked coach Nick Cushing to remove Castellanos from the game. He wouldn’t commit to staging this as his swansong in the Bronx, though again all signs seem to point to the contrary.
“I think we got tired in general,” he said. “I think we had two really intense games, Dallas and the Red Bulls. The heat this week in practice has been really tough, so the likes of Maxi (Moralez). Taty and Nico Acevedo, you know, Talles Magno , I thought we were just like the heat taking a toll on us.
The coach was dodging the question, meanwhile all week the buzz has been that Castellanos is leaving town and NYCFC are preparing to adapt. They can find other attackers capable of attacking and scoring.
Moralez scored his first regular season goal since Oct. 23. He passed a defender on the right side of the box and scored on a rebound from a difficult angle.
However, it is not Valentin Castellanos. And NYCFC fans have grown accustomed to their top scorer making the difference. Cushing referred to Hebner replacing Castellanos and scoring a goal.
“Recruiting is an ongoing thing for us,” Cushing said. “We are looking all over the team, all over the world, and continuously to make sure that if we bring a player, it is to strengthen our squad.”
But you can’t find a scoring threat like Castellanos in a local Bronx corner. Or find another goalscorer like him in the vast world of world football.
He is one of a kind and NYCFC will face the inevitable within days of losing a franchise player. In the meantime, there is business to pursue as the NYCFC is in an uphill battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with Philadelphia, Montreal and the Red Bulls.
“I think people will always remember that whether he’s here or in another part of the world, he’s Taty Castellanos and he’s in New York,” Cushing said.
Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live Tuesday nights at 10pm EST on the SLG Network / Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under the SLG Network.