Bronx, NY- Three penalty kicks in a single match for NYCFC and two went for goals Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. In the 41st minute, Valentin “Taty” Castellanos drew a foul, converting an opportunity in the 44th minute.
That goal gave NYCFC a 2-1 lead, the third penalty. Castellanos would score again in the 82nd minute and that put a cap on a 4-2 win over the New England Revolution, a team that came to New York with a depleted 10-man roster.
Had Castellanos converted another penalty kick he would have notched a second hat trick of the season, third of his career. The 11th and 12th goals of the season put Castellanos the leader in MLS, possibly on his way to another “Golden Boot Award.”
After their first win for interim coach Nick Cushing, after two draws and a loss, NYCFC for the moment took over second place in the Eastern Conference standings, Cushing said there were chances for more goals. In other words, penalty kicks don’t come around the corner.
But New England, despite a depleted roster, played with aggression. They forced NYCFC to force penalties and used every player to their advantage.
“Really happy with the performance today,” Cushing said. “We created a lot of chances. Maybe we could have scored more goals. But to score four at home and take the three points, we’re happy with that.”
And the win was important because the next two matches will be a challenge on the road Wednesday at Dallas and next Sunday evening at the rival Red Bulls across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The Red Bulls and Philadelphia are two teams neck-and neck with NYCFC in the standings, and present a challenge to dethrone the defending MLS Cup champions. But, Cushing is confident because his team has a good winning record on the road, though, that significance of meeting the Red Bulls is a week away on their home turf.
“It’s going to be really tough when we fly all the way to Dallas to play them first,” Cushing said. “And we will make sure that we prepare the team to play that game. We got a good record away over the last three games.”
He cited a loss in the US Open Cup Game, wins in Washington D.C, Minnesota, and a draw at Cincinnati. Preparation is not an issue but NYCFC could be a man short as Maxi Moralez, a key striker, was removed from the game after being knocked down.
“The Red Bull game will be exciting for everybody, we know that, and we look forward to them,” Cushing said. “For MLS to have these local head-to-heads, I think coming from Europe is exciting that we have these derbys that draw the fans in. So, we are excited for it and once we get Dallas out the way we will prepare.”
Overall, though, the ability to improve continues with Cushing who stepped in from the coaching staff when Ronny Deila departed for a lucrative opportunity in Belgium.
“It’s really refreshing that our players have a real enthusiasm and a rea; desire to continue to improve,” Cushing said. “I was walking through the dressing room after the game. We’re happy, but we don’t want to give up two goals at home. So we’ll go back on the training pitch, back in the video room, and we’ll work to become a better team.”
Regardless, NYCFC will take this win against an experienced and good team. And they can only improve more in the next two matches more so because Castellenos has scored four goals in two games.
“I think we have just been a little unlucky with the last couple of results,” said NYCFC defender Alexander Callens. “The games have been there for us to win but the ball just didn’t bounce our way. We think today’s game is really important for us in terms of gaining confidence.”
Rich Mancuso is a senior writer with Latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 10pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.
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