Valentin Castellanos: “Confidence comes from my teammates. My teammates trust me, and I get that good vibe before the game.” (Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
For Valentin “Taty” Castellanos, less is certainly more.
Three months ago, New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila sat down with his 22-year-old forward and advised him not to try to do too much.
It took a while to translate onto the field, but it eventually worked. Castellano has scored five goals in his last four matches.
“We agreed that I needed to stop running like crazy all over the ground, and try to focus on the box,” Castellanos said during a video press conference with the media earlier this week. “Definitely that helped a me a lot scoring goals right now.”
At that juncture, the Argentine native wasn’t playing much.
“I wasn’t in a very good mood,” he said. “I was a little bit down because I wasn’t playing. I asked him where I was failing, where I was doing things properly. That helped me a lot and I’m thankful for that opportunity.”
Castellanos said he also stayed after training a bit longer to work on his finishing touch, “scoring with my left foot, right foot.”
He had teammates throw or kick crosses into him. “I know I have to improve every day with these sorts of things,” he said.
His scoring splurge, which included a hat-trick against the Red Bulls, has coincided with NYCFC’s regular-season ending four-game winning streak that propelled the team into the MLS Cup Playoffs. City will meet Orlando City SC Saturday at noon.
The 5-10, 154-lb. Castellanos did not play in the first game of the streak, but he is one confident striker these days, something that NYCFC will need if it wants to defeat the Lions and go deep into the postseason.
“Confidence comes from my teammates,” he said. “My teammates trust me, and I get that good vibe before the game. I didn’t score a while ago and I was a little bit down, but I had support from Ronny and some teammates as Maxi Moralez. They always told him that goals would come and eventually that happened.”
In his first 18 games this season, Castellanos tallied but once.
Getting an opportunity to play regularly with the likes of Jesus Medina, Gary Mackay-Steven and Moralez has allowed Castellanos to get consistency and into a rhythm.
“Playing together, helps the whole bunch a lot,” he said. “I hadn’t played a lot before with Gary but now that I’m playing with him, I’m enjoying the experience. Gary’s improving every game. I’m more experienced playing with his Jesus and Maxi. Maxi makes me to play better. I try to take advantage of all the things that Maxi can provide to the game.”