By Michael Lewis
Only days after joining the team on loan, 19-year-old Valentin Castellanos was thrown into the deep end of the New York City FC pool Saturday night.
The 19-year-old Argentine did swimmingly, scoring a goal in his City debut in the 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
NYCFC head coach Domenec Torrent had no problems starting a newcomer in the Yankee Stadium encounter.
“Starting a player on his first week is not unusual,” he said.” This is a matter of quality. They ask me why I sometimes start an 18-year-old player and that is because he has more quality than a 30-year-old. [Castellanos] trained with his former team for 15 days, he came and trained well and for the way we wanted to play today he was ideal. From the day you sign a player, he becomes part of the team, if you think this player can help you out go ahead. If he is lacking rhythm, then we will wait a little bit. But to me it doesn’t matter if he arrived days before.
“I’m very happy for him [Castellanos] because to arrive here, in fact, he trained 15 days in Uruguay and five days with us [NYCFC], especially the last two days he was amazing in the training session. When I decided to play with him, he has quality to play on the left side/right side, even the striker. I think he’s a player that will help us a lot.”
Actually, Castellanos arrived five days prior to the game after training in Uruguay for two weeks. He impressed Torrent so that he felt he would be remiss if he didn’t start the forward.
Torrent said Castellanos “was amazing in the training session” two days prior to the match.
“When I decided to play with him, he has quality to play on the left side/right side, even the striker,” he added. “I think he’s a player that will help us a lot.”
Just after the second half whistle sounded, Castellanos made his play as he slid home a Jo Inge Berget cross past goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic for his first goal and a 2-1 lead for the hosts.
“It was a great opportunity,” he said. “Special thanks to my teammates because they kept feeding me balls, kept feeding me in the same direction that I ended up with the goal. Still a little bittersweet, but I’m especially thankful for the opportunity my teammates gave me as well and I’m very happy to have debuted with a goal.”
Castellanos was replaced by Kwame Awuah in the 65th minute with NYCFC leading by a goal.
It has been a whirlwind time with his new club as Castellanos is still getting acclimated to the BigApple.
“First off, I’ve never been here to New York, so just stepping foot on this field was great. It’s a great field, it’s a great stadium, the atmosphere was tremendous. I’m very thankful for the fans that came out today to support the club.”