New York- Valentin “Taty” Castellanos has been the leading scorer for NYCFC the last year. Also, he is the reigning MLS “Golden Boot Award” winner for most goals scored in the league during their 2021 MLS Cup championship run.to the MLS Cup.
Saturday, at Yankee Stadium, Castellanos had a goal disallowed in the first half of play and the 23,000 fans of NYCFC booed the reversed call. He was later subbed in the half and received a standing ovation.
He would not get his league leading 14th goal, or get another chance.“Taty” got to the sideline and there were hugs. After NYCFC, the defending MLS Cup champions increased their unbeaten streak to 10 games at Yankee Stadium, Citi, Field and other venues with a 2-0 win over Inter Miami FC, Castellanos got more hugs as he exited the playing field.
Fans cheered again. Castellanos waved to the crowd as this was his last appearance as a player for NYCFC at Yankee Stadium. The leading scorer in the MLS, had been linked to signing a lucrative contract and loaned to Girona FC of LaLiga in Spain.
Monday, it became official. Castellanos signed a lucrative contract with Girona and NYCFC will miss his presence as they will need to replace a major cog to their offensive attack.
The Mendoza, Argentina native originally joined NYCFC on loan in 2018 from fellow City Football Group club Montevideo City Torque, scoring in his debut match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Following his successful loan stint, the Club made his transfer permanent in November of that year.
Castellanos scored 53 goals and recorded 19 assists across 116 MLS regular season and MLS Cup Playoffs appearances for NYCFC. Castellanos is only the second player in NYCFC history to score 50+ goals for the Club. He also became the only player in Club history to score four goals in a single game during the Club’s 6-0 dominating performance against Real Salt Lake earlier this season.
The MLS will also lose another star player that brings a lot to the table, and because of certain bylaws ,stopping Castellanos from jumping ship was permitted, though this can become an issue down the line with lucrative television deals kicking in with the MLS next year.
“I think he has meant so much to the club over the years, not just with the golden boot, but with everything he’s given, his energy every single game and training session,” said NYCFC keeper Sean Johnson. “He has given the team life, and his performances have spoken for themselves. He is a quality player. I am sure he is going to crush it wherever he is next.”
Johnson said Castellanos will always be a part of the NYCFC family. A loyal NYCFC fan base displayed signs of “Thank You Taty” and “Muchas Gracias” in what became his final match with the team.
Castellanos said in a statement, “ I came to New York City four years ago and this experience has been everything I could have wanted. It was here where I grew up and took my game to the next level. MLS is a strong and extremely competitive league with fantastic quality.”
He added, “I’ve always said that the people at the club are incredible. It’s like a family. My teammates and the amazing staff that have spent so much time with me have helped me become the player I am today. I was so proud to be able to win the Golden Boot last year and help the team bring home the Club’s first MLS Cu for our fans.”
Yet, there is a void without Castellanos. And NYCFC fans have become accustomed to their top scorer as the difference maker. Coach Nick Cushing referred to Hebner who replaced Castellanos and scored a goal Sunday as one who can replace the striker.
“Recruiting is an ongoing thing for us,” Cushing said. “We’re looking all over the team, all over the world, and continually to make sure that if we do bring a player in, it’s to strengthen our team.”
But you can’t find a scoring threat like Castellanos around a local corner in the Bronx. Or find another scorer like him around the vast world of global soccer.
He is one of a kind and NYCFC will face the inevitable in a few days of losing a franchise player as Saturday they visit Montreal. In the meantime, there is business to continue as NYCFC is in a tough first place Eastern Conference first place battle with Philadelpia, Montreal, and the Red Bulls.
“Think people will always remember that whether he is here or in another part of the world, he is Taty Castellanos and he is New York,” Cushing said.
Rich Mancuso is a senior writer @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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